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Ex parte Montgomery County Board of Education

Supreme Court of Alabama

August 24, 2018

Ex parte Montgomery County Board of Education
v.
Montgomery County Board of Education In re: John Doe, a minor, by and through his mother and next friend S.C.

          Montgomery Circuit Court, CV-18-900026

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          MAIN, JUSTICE.

         The Montgomery County Board of Education ("the Board") petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Montgomery Circuit Court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it on the basis of sovereign immunity. We grant the petition and issue the writ.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         On January 7, 2018, John Doe, a minor, by and through his mother S.C., filed the underlying action in the Montgomery Circuit Court against the Board, seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages arising from an alleged assault on Doe by a school employee at the elementary school Doe attended, as a result of which Doe was injured. The complaint asserts a single count of negligence against the Board and other unidentified fictitiously named defendants. Specifically, Doe alleges that the Board breached its duty "to not place him in harm or specifically harm him" and that the Board failed to properly train and supervise the employee allegedly responsible for the assault.

         On February 27, 2018, the Board moved to dismiss the action on the ground that the Board is a State agency entitled to State immunity under the provisions of Art. I, § 14, Ala. Const. 1901. The trial court denied the motion, and the Board filed this petition.

          II. Standard of Review

"'"It is well established that mandamus will lie to compel a dismissal of [a] claim that is barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity." Ex parte Blankenship, 893 So.2d 303, 305 (Ala. 2004).
"'"A writ of mandamus is a
"'"'drastic and extraordinary writ that 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 Wood, 852 So.2d 705, 708 (Ala. 2002) (quoting Ex parte United Serv. Stations, Inc., 628 So.2d 501, 503 (Ala. 1993)).
"'....
"'"'[I]f an action is an action against the State within the meaning of § 14, such a case "presents a question of subject-matter jurisdiction, which cannot be waived or conferred by consent."' Haley v. Barbour County, 885 So.2d 783, 788 (Ala. 2004) (quoting Patterson v. Gladwin Corp., 835 So.2d 137, 142-43 (Ala. 2002)).'Therefore, a court's failure to dismiss a case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction based on sovereign immunity may properly be addressed by a petition for the writ of mandamus.' Ex parte Alabama Dep't of Mental Health & Retardation, 837 So.2d 808, 810-11 (Ala. 2002)."

"'Ex parte Davis, 930 So.2d 497, 499-500 (Ala. 2005).'" Ex parte Phenix City Bd. of Educ., 67 So.3d 56, 59 (Ala. 2011) (quoting Ex parte Lawley, 38 ...


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