Clifford Goodman Wright, as administrator of the Estate of Mary Evelyn Wright, deceased
Phyllis Harris et al.
from Cleburne Circuit Court (CV-13-900053)
Goodman Wright ("Wright"), the administrator of the
estate of Mary Evelyn Wright ("Mary"), deceased,
appeals from a summary judgment entered by the Cleburne
Circuit Court ("the trial court") in favor of Dawn
Reid, Phyllis Harris, and Tuwanda Worrills (hereinafter
referred to collectively as "the nurses"), who,
during all relevant times, were employed by the Cleburne
County Hospital Board, Inc., d/b/a Cleburne County Nursing
Home ("the Hospital Board"). For the reasons set
forth herein, we dismiss the appeal as being from a nonfinal
and Procedural History
the second appeal to this Court involving this litigation. In
Wright v. Cleburne County Hospital Board,
Inc., 255 So.3d 186, 189 (Ala. 2017), a plurality of
this Court summarized the pertinent procedural history:
"In October 2013, [Mary] commenced a personal-injury
action against 'Cleburne County Hospital and Nursing
Home, Inc.' Mary asserted in her complaint that she had
suffered injuries from a fall while she was a resident of a
nursing home allegedly operated by the defendant ('the
nursing home'). Mary died, allegedly from her injuries,
the day after the complaint was filed. Wright was appointed
the administrator of Mary's estate and was substituted as
"In response to the complaint, the Hospital Board filed
an answer indicating that it operated the nursing home where
the incident occurred and that it was the proper defendant in
the action. Thereafter, Wright amended the complaint to
correctly identify the Hospital Board as the defendant.
Wright also amended the complaint to add the nurses as
defendants and to assert wrongful-death claims against the
nurses and the Hospital Board."
amended, Wright's complaint asserted claims against the
nurses, the Hospital Board, and various fictitiously named
parties under the Alabama Medical Liability Act, §
6-5-540 et seq., Ala. Code 1975. Wright's claim against
the Hospital Board included 13 separate allegations of
negligence. Wright's claims against each of the nurses
included 13 separate allegations of negligence. Regarding
each claim, Wright alleged:
"The said Defendants, separately and severally, violated
the applicable standard of care as stated above which
combined and concurred with the negligent conduct of the
other Defendants in this action to proximately cause the
injuries to [Mary] from October 4 - 25 and the death of
[Mary] on October 25, 2013."
Wright alleged that the Hospital Board was vicariously liable
for the actions of its agents, specifically, the actions of
Hospital Board and the nurses subsequently sought an order
from the trial court declaring that the damages cap set out
in § 11-93-2, Ala. Code 1975, applied to Wright's
claims, and the trial court entered an order so providing.
255 So.3d at 190. Pursuant to Rule 5, Ala. R. App. P., this
Court granted Wright permission to appeal from the trial
court's interlocutory order regarding the applicability
of § 11-93-2 to his claims. 255 So.3d at 188. After
holding that § 11-93-2 did not apply to Wright's
claims against the nurses insofar as those claims were
asserted against the nurses in their "individual
capacities," this Court reversed the trial court's
order and remanded the cause for further proceedings. 255
So.3d at 196.
remand, the nurses moved for a summary judgment, arguing that
Wright had failed to present sufficient evidence regarding
any duty of care owed by the nurses individually to Mary, a
breach of such a duty, or a causal relationship between a
breach of such a duty and Mary's injuries and subsequent
death. Wright filed a response, opposing the nurses'
motion. Both the nurses' motion and Wright's response
were supported by evidence. On July 9, 2018, the trial court
entered an order providing, in relevant part:
"Based upon the undisputed evidence, the submissions of
the parties, and the oral arguments of the parties, the court
finds that the motion for summary judgment filed on behalf of
the [nurses] is well taken and due to be granted. [Wright]
failed to establish a duty owed by the [nurses] to [Mary]
that would make them individually liable to [Wright].
Additionally, [Wright] has failed to establish a causal
connection between any alleged breach in the standard of care
and [Mary]'s injury and death. Because there is no
genuine issue of material fact, the [nurses] are entitled to
a judgment as a matter of law.
"WHEREFORE, said motion is granted and the [nurses] are
dismissed with prejudice. The Court further finds that there
is no just reason for delay under [Rule] 54(b)[, Ala. R. Civ.
P., ] and hereby directs entry of judgment in favor of [the
same day, the Hospital Board filed a motion
"partial[ly]" joining the nurses'
summary-judgment motion. Among other things, the Hospital
"Specifically, the [nurses] argued that [Wright] failed
to establish a causal connection between any alleged breach
of duty and the injury and death of [Mary], a failure which
is fatal to [Wright]'s claims. ... [Wright]'s claims
against [the Hospital Board] should be dismissed for the same
reason: lack of a causal ...