Ex parte Amee Kozlovski, M.D.
Altapointe Health Systems, Inc., and Amee Kozlovski, M.D. In re: David Shamlin, as administrator of the estate of Jeffery Brown, deceased
(Mobile Circuit Court, CV-12-902874).
Petitioner: Thomas O. Gaillard III of Satterwhite, Druhan,
Gaillard & Tyler, LLC, Mobile; and Luther Strange, atty.
gen., and Thomas B. Klinner, gen. counsel and asst. atty.
gen., and Joseph " Jody" G. Stewart, Jr., asst.
atty. gen., Alabama Department of Mental Health.
Respondent: John R. Spencer, Mobile; and C.S. Chiepalich,
Justice. Moore, C.J., and Stuart, Bolin, Shaw, Wise, and
Bryan, JJ., concur. Parker, J., dissents.
FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Kozlovski, M.D., petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus
directing the Mobile Circuit Court to enter a summary
judgment in her favor in a wrongful-death action brought
against her by David Shamlin, as administrator of the estate
of Jeffery Brown, deceased. We grant the petition and
issue the writ.
Facts and Procedural History
November 2011, following a physical attack on his father,
David Brown, Jeffery Brown was involuntarily committed by the
Mobile Probate Court to Searcy Hospital, a long-term-care
facility for mental illness operated by the Alabama
Department of Mental Health. Brown was 19 years old at the
time of his commitment and had a long history of mental
illness and psychiatric hospitalizations.
particular problem associated with Brown's mental illness
was his tendency to run away from home. Brown's father
testified that Brown began running away from home in 2003. As
Brown grew older, his impulse to run away became so pervasive
that it was necessary to keep him under 24-hour supervision
and to place alarms on his bedroom door and window to keep
him from running away at night. When Brown did run away, he
would sometimes be gone for days at a time, and when found he
would be malnourished and dehydrated. Brown also exhibited
violent behavior and aggression toward his parents and
others. This behavior also escalated as he grew older. In
November 2011, Brown physically attacked his father. The
incident resulted in Brown's arrest and his involuntary
commitment to Searcy Hospital.
Searcy Hospital Brown was assigned a " treatment
team." Dr. Kozlovski, a licensed physician and
psychiatrist employed by the Alabama Department of Mental
Health, was the head of Brown's treatment team and was
responsible for making the ultimate judgment about whether
Brown met the criteria for discharge from Searcy Hospital.
The treatment team also included a social worker, a licensed
psychologist, a rehabilitation coordinator, and a registered
nurse. A treatment plan was devised for Brown, and he was
prescribed medication and received other mental-health
treatment. During his time at Searcy Hospital, Brown had
incidents of self-injurious behavior but was otherwise fully
compliant with his treatment. On April 5, 2012, the treatment
team reached a consensus that Brown had met the conditions
for discharge. On May 18, 2012, despite reservations
expressed by Brown's family that he would run away from a
group-home facility, Brown was discharged to Safe Haven, a
group home owned and operated by Altapointe Health Systems,
Inc. (" Altapointe" ). Dr. Kozlovski approved the
19, 2012, Brown left Safe Haven without the knowledge of Safe
Haven's staff. On May 23, 2012, Brown's body was
found lying on a road in Mobile. Brown had apparently been
struck and killed by a motorist.
as the court-appointed administrator of Brown's estate,
initiated the underlying wrongful-death action in the Mobile
Circuit Court, naming as defendants Dr. Kozlovski and
Altapointe. The complaint alleged that Dr.
Kozlovski had been negligent and/or wanton in numerous
respects. Shamlin's complaint, as amended, alleged that
" a. Negligently and/or wantonly failed to provide
proper and/or adequate treatment of [Brown's] mental
illness and psychological condition;
" b. Negligently and/or wantonly failed to properly
assess and/or diagnose [Brown's] mental illness and
" c. Negligently and/or wantonly failed to identify
[Brown] as a flight risk;
" d. Negligently and/or wantonly failed to assess and/or
diagnose [Brown's] physical needs and/or requirements;
" e. Negligently and/or wantonly failed to determine
whether [Brown] met the admission requirements of Safe Haven,
a non-secure facility;
" f. Negligently and/or wantonly failed to determine
whether Safe Haven had the capability to monitor and
supervise [Brown] at all times in order to prevent [Brown]
from eloping, fleeing or escaping from Safe Haven;
" g. Negligently and/or wantonly approved and authorized
[Brown's] release or discharge from Searcy Hospital, a
secure facility, to Safe Haven, a non-secure facility; and
" [h]. Negligently and/or wantonly failed to advise,
prescribe or otherwise convey that at the time of or prior to
discharging [Brown] from her care at Searcy Hospital to
Altapointe, [Brown] required 24 hour 'around the
clock' eyes-on supervision for at least the first week of
his placement at Safe Haven Group Home."
also alleged that Dr. Kozlovski negligently and/or wantonly
discharged Brown in violation of the Mobile Probate
Court's commitment order and that she negligently and/or
wantonly failed to conduct a suicide-risk assessment before
September 18, 2014, Dr. Kozlovski filed a motion for a
summary judgment, arguing that the claims against her were
barred by the doctrine of State-agent immunity. Shamlin filed
a response in opposition to Dr. Kozlovski's motion for a
summary judgment, in which he contended that Dr. Kozlovski
had violated certain rules and regulations applicable to
Brown's release and was not, therefore, entitled to rely
on the doctrine of State-agent immunity. On December 12,
2014, the trial court denied Dr. Kozlovski's motion,
without explanation. On December 30, 2014, Dr. Kozlovski
timely filed this petition for a writ of mandamus.
Standard of Review
" Although the denial of a motion for a summary judgment
is generally not appealable, this Court has held that the
denial of a motion for a summary judgment grounded on a claim
of immunity is reviewable by a petition for a writ of
mandamus. Ex parte Kennedy, 992 So.2d 1276, 1280
(Ala. 2008). In such case, we apply the following standard of
" '" 'While the general rule is that the
denial of a motion for summary judgment is not reviewable,
... the denial of a motion for summary judgment grounded on a
claim of immunity is reviewable by petition for writ of
mandamus.' Ex parte Rizk, 791 So.2d 911, 912
(Ala. 2000). A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy
available only when there is: '(a) a clear legal right to
the order sought; (2) an imperative duty upon the respondent
to perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so; (3) the lack
of another adequate remedy; and (4) the properly invoked
jurisdiction of the court.' Ex parte BOC Group,
Inc., 823 So.2d 1270, 1272 (Ala. 2001)." '
" Kennedy, 992 So.2d at 1280 (quoting Ex
parte Nall, 879 So.2d 541, 543 (Ala. 2003))."
Ex parte Ruffin, [Ms. 1130324, Aug. 29, 2014] 160
So.3d 750, *5 (Ala. 2014).
Kozlovski contends that the trial court erred in denying her
motion for a summary judgment because, she argues, she is
entitled to State-agent immunity in this case. In response,
Shamlin argues that Dr. Kozlovski is not entitled to
State-agent immunity from the wrongful-death claim because,
he contends, Dr. Kozlovski's actions, as related to
Brown's discharge from Searcy Hospital, violated several
rules and regulations applicable to ...