Circuit Court, CV-16-900178
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Price and Greg Lovelace, two of the defendants below,
petition this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the
trial court to enter a summary judgment in their favor on the
ground of State-agent immunity. We grant the petition and
issue the writ.
was formerly the warden at Donaldson Correctional Facility
("the prison"), which is operated by the Alabama
Department of Corrections ("the DOC"). Lovelace is
a deputy commissioner of the DOC in charge of construction
and maintenance. The plaintiff, Marcus Parrish, is a
correctional officer employed by the DOC. The evidence,
viewed in the light most favorable to Parrish, the nonmovant,
see Wilma Corp. v. Fleming Foods of Alabama, Inc.,
613 So.2d 359 (Ala. 1993), reveals the following facts.
Parrish was supervising inmate showers in a segregation unit
in the prison. Parrish left the shower area briefly to
retrieve shaving trimmers, and, when he returned, inmate
Rashad Byers had already entered a shower cell, which had an
exterior lock on it. Byers indicated that he was finished
with his shower, and Parrish told him to turn around to be
handcuffed. Parrish then approached Byers's shower door
with the key to the lock on the door in his hand. Parrish was
getting ready to unlock the shower door when Byers
unexpectedly opened the door, exited the shower cell, and
attacked Parrish. During the attack, Byers took Parrish's
baton from him and began striking Parrish with it. Parrish
was knocked unconscious, and he sustained injuries to his
sued Price and Lovelace in their official capacities. Parrish
later filed an amended complaint naming Price and Lovelace as
defendants in their individual capacities only. Thus, it
appears that Price and Lovelace are now being sued only in
their individual capacities. Parrish also sued other
defendants, but those claims are not relevant to this
petition. Parrish's allegations concern the cell-door
locks and staffing at the prison. Parrish alleged that many
of the locks at the prison were defective, which allowed
prisoners to open supposedly locked doors, and that the
prison was understaffed with correctional officers. Parrish
alleged that Price and Lovelace willfully breached their
duties by failing to monitor the prison for unsafe conditions
and by failing to repair or replace the allegedly defective
locks. The complaint further alleged that Price willfully
breached a duty by failing to remedy the alleged
understaffing at the prison. Although the allegations concern
both faulty locks and understaffing, it appears that the
primary allegation concerns the locks; Parrish does not
mention the alleged understaffing in his brief to this Court.
and Lovelace moved for a summary judgment, asserting, among
other things, that they are entitled to State-agent immunity.
Price and Lovelace supported their summary-judgment motion
mainly with excerpts from their own depositions. In response,
Parrish argued that Price and Lovelace are not entitled to
State-agent immunity. Following a hearing, the trial court
denied the summary-judgment motion. The trial court
concluded, without elaboration, that genuine issues of
material fact exist so as to preclude a summary judgment.
Price and Lovelace then petitioned this Court for a writ of
mandamus, arguing that they are immune from liability based
on State-agent immunity.
the denial of a summary-judgment motion is not reviewable by
a mandamus petition, but an exception to that general rule
exists here. The denial of a summary-judgment motion grounded
on a claim of immunity is reviewable by a mandamus petition.
Ex parte Turner, 840 So.2d 132, 135 (Ala. 2002).
"A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy, and it
will be 'issued only when there is: 1) a clear legal
right in the petitioner 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)
properly invoked jurisdiction of the court.' Ex parte
United Serv. Stations, Inc., 628 So.2d 501, 503 (Ala.
Ex parte Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 720
So.2d 893, 894 (Ala. 1998).
"[i]n reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion
for a summary judgment, we apply the same standard the trial
court applied initially in granting or denying the motion.
Ex parte Alfa Mut. Gen. Ins. Co., 742 So.2d 182, 184
"'The principles of law applicable to a motion for
summary judgment are well settled. To grant such a motion,
the trial court must determine that the evidence does not
create a genuine issue of material fact and that the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c)(3),
Ala. R. Civ. P. When the movant makes a prima facie showing
that those two conditions are satisfied, the burden shifts to
the nonmovant to present "substantial evidence"
creating a genuine issue of material fact.'
"742 So.2d at 184. '[S]ubstantial evidence is
evidence of such weight and quality that fair-minded persons
in the exercise of impartial judgment can reasonably infer
the existence of the fact sought to be proved.' West
v. Founders Life Assurance Co. of Florida, 547 So.2d
870, 871 (Ala. 1989)." Swan v. City of
Hueytown, 920 So.2d 1075, 1077-78 (Ala. 2005).
Ex parte Cranman, 792 So.2d 392 (Ala. 2000)
(Cranman was a plurality decision, but a majority of
this Court later adopted the Cranman standard in
Ex parte Butts, 775 So.2d 173 (Ala. 2000)), this
Court restated the standard governing State-agent immunity:
"A State agent shall be immune from civil
liability in his or her personal capacity when the conduct
made the basis of the claim against the agent is ...