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Ex parte Wilson

Supreme Court of Alabama

March 1, 2019

EX PARTE Leon C. WILSON, in His Official Capacity as the Former President of Alabama State University, and Quinton Ross, in His Official Capacity as the Current President of Alabama State University (In re: Sharron Stevens and Tim Stevens
v.
Leon C. Wilson, in His Official Capacity as the Former President of Alabama State University, and Quinton Ross, in His Official Capacity as the Current President of Alabama State University).

         Rehearing Denied April 19, 2019.

Page 443

         Montgomery Circuit Court, CV-18-13

         PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          William A. Scott, Jr. , of Scott, Sullivan, Streetman & Fox, P.C., Birmingham; and Kenneth L. Thomas and Ramadanah S. Jones , Office of General Counsel, Alabama State University, Montgomery, for petitioners.

          William Eugene Rutledge of The Rutledge Law Firm, LLC, Birmingham, for respondents.

         WISE, Justice.

         The respondents, Sharron Stevens and Tim Stevens, sued the petitioners, Leon C. Wilson, in his official capacity as the former president of Alabama State University, and Quinton Ross, in his official capacity as the current president of Alabama State University, in the Montgomery Circuit Court.[1] The petitioners filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them on the basis that they are immune from suit pursuant to Art. 1, § 14, Ala. Const. 1901. The trial court denied the petitioners' motion to dismiss, and the petitioners filed a petition

Page 444

for a writ of mandamus requesting that this Court direct the trial court to enter an order dismissing the claims asserted against them. We grant the petition and issue the writ.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The complaint alleged that, on May 25, 2017, the Stevenses attended their daughter's graduation ceremony that was held at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome ("the Acadome") on the campus of Alabama State University. The complaint also alleged that, after the ceremony, the Stevenses were exiting the Acadome "through an exit provided for that purpose; that, as they were leaving, Sharron fell; and that Sharron suffered injuries and damages as a result of the fall. The complaint alleged that "the exit was negligently designed and negligently maintained so that it was unsafe for the purpose for which it was designed and used." Count I of the complaint alleged a negligence claim against the petitioners. Count II alleged that the petitioners had violated their duty to warn the Stevenses of dangerous conditions on the premises. Count III asserted that the petitioners had breached their duty to provide the Stevenses with a reasonably safe exit from the Acadome. Count IV asserted a claim for punitive damages. Finally, in Count V, Tim asserted a claim for loss of consortium.[2]

         On February 6, 2018, the petitioners filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P. In their motion, the petitioners asserted that they are immune from suit pursuant to Art. I, § 14, Ala. Const. 1901. On June 13, 2018, the trial court entered an order denying the motion to dismiss. The petitioners then filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in this Court.

         Standard of Review

"`"The writ of mandamus is an extraordinary legal remedy. Ex parte Mobile Fixture & Equip. Co., 630 So.2d 358, 360 (Ala. 1993). Therefore, this Court will not grant mandamus relief unless the petitioner shows: (1) a clear legal right to the order sought; (2) an imperative duty upon the trial court to perform, accompanied by its refusal to do so; (3) the lack of another adequate remedy; and (4) the properly invoked jurisdiction of the Court. See Ex parte Wood, 852 So.2d 705, 708 (Ala. 2002)."
"`Ex parte Davis, 930 So.2d 497, 499 (Ala. 2005). A "petition for a writ of mandamus is an appropriate means for seeking review of an order denying a claim of immunity." Ex parte Butts, 775 So.2d 173, 176 (Ala. 2000).
"`"In reviewing the denial of a motion to dismiss by means of a mandamus petition, we do not change our standard of review." Ex parte Haralson, 853 ...

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