Ex parte Angela McClintock et al.
Angela McClintock et al. In re: K.H., as parent and next friend of T.H., a minor; and T.H., as parent and next friend of K.W., a deceased minor
Circuit Court, CV-14-900844
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
McClintock, Stephanie Streeter, and Christa Devaughn
(hereinafter referred to collectively as "the
petitioners"), all of whom are employees of the
Jefferson County Department of Human Resources
("JCDHR") and defendants below, petitioned for a
writ of mandamus requesting that this Court direct the
Jefferson Circuit Court to enter a summary judgment in their
favor based on State-agent immunity. We grant the petition
and issue the writ.
and Procedural History
30, 2011, T.H. was charged with third-degree domestic
violence when S.W., T.H.'s mother, filed charges against
her for striking a sibling in the face. On December 21, 2011,
T.H. gave birth to K.W. On December 23, 2011, while T.H. was
still in the hospital, T.H.'s grandmother reported to
JCDHR that she had concerns that T.H. would not be able to
care for her new baby, that T.H. had left her father's
home, and that T.H. had a history of running away. After
conducting an investigation, JCDHR allowed T.H. to be
discharged from the hospital to the home of K.M., T.H.'s
December 27, 2011, a social worker with JCDHR contacted K.M.
to schedule a home visit. At that time, K.M. advised the
social worker that T.H. had left with K.W. shortly after
arriving at her house. She also indicated that she thought
that T.H. and K.W. were living with K.W.'s father.
December 29, 2011, K.H., T.H.'s father, filed a
dependency complaint, seeking custody of K.W. In his
complaint, he alleged:
"[T.H.] is a 15-year old who think[s] she is grown, she
do[es] not want to follow rules. She is real disrespectful,
t[o]ward me, and she do[es] not want to do anything I say.
She is so out of control, and says I, can't tell her what
to do, because she [is] grown; so that's why I need legal
help, before she get[s] hurt or hurt[s] her baby. Also mother
15 gave birth to a baby boy on 12-21-2011 and ran away and
left baby unattendent [sic]."
January 4, 2012, K.H. filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint, stating that he had "found [T.H.] and her
infant baby boy and now have them in my care, and if for any
reason she run[s] away, I am to contact Det. Thomas."
January 20, 2012, Devaughn filed a dependency complaint as to
T.H. and a request for a pickup order for K.W. She alleged
that T.H., who was a minor, was not living with her
custodian, K.H.; that K.H. was being investigated for
abandonment; that T.H. had a history of running away; and
that T.H. had not shown that she could responsibly care for
K.W. K.W. was picked up and placed in the foster home of
Dennis Gilmer on that same date.
died on February 24, 2012, while in foster care. At the time
of K.W.'s death, McClintock was the director of JCDHR;
Streeter was an assistant director of child welfare for
JCDHR; and Devaughn was a child-abuse and neglect
investigative worker for JCDHR.
February 21, 2014, K.H. and T.H. filed a complaint in the
Jefferson Circuit Court against the petitioners, Brandon
Hardin, Dennis Gilmer, and JCDHR. They stated claims of
wrongful death of a minor, negligence, wantonness, and
negligent/wanton training and supervision. K.H. and T.H.
alleged that the petitioners had negligently, wantonly,
and/or recklessly removed K.W. from T.H.'s custody; that
they had negligently, wantonly, and/or recklessly placed him
in Gilmer's care; and that they had negligently,
wantonly, and/or recklessly failed to properly train,
instruct, and supervise Gilmer. They also alleged that Gilmer
had negligently, wantonly, or recklessly allowed K.W. to be
placed face-down on a sheet that was allegedly too large for
the mattress in his crib and that, as a result, K.W. had
suffered fatal injuries.
August 29, 2016, the petitioners filed a motion for a summary
judgment. They argued that they were entitled to immunity on
several bases, including an assertion that they were entitled
to State-agent immunity pursuant to Ex parte
Cranman, 792 So.2d 392 (Ala. 2000). On March 9, 2017,
K.H. and T.H. filed a motion in opposition to the
trial court conducted a hearing on the motion for a summary
judgment. On February 20, 2017, it denied the
motion. This petition followed.
"'While the general rule is that the denial of a
motion for summary judgment is not reviewable, the exception
is that 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: '(1) 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.
Ex parte Nall, 879 So.2d 541, 543 (Ala. 2003). Also,
"whether review of the denial of a summary-judgment
motion is by a petition for a writ of mandamus or by
permissive appeal, the appellate court's standard of
review remains the same. If there is a genuine issue as to
any material fact on the question whether the movant is
entitled to immunity, then the moving party is not entitled
to a summary judgment. Rule 56, Ala. R. Civ. P. In
determining whether there is a material fact on the question
whether the movant is entitled to immunity, courts, both
trial and appellate, must view the record in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, accord the nonmoving party
all reasonable favorable inferences from the evidence, and
resolve all reasonable doubts against the ...