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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
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 In re: Sharron Stevens and Tim Stevens

          Montgomery Circuit Court, CV-18-13

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          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 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 So.2d 928, 931 (Ala. 2003).
"'"In Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297 (Ala. 1993), this Court stated the standard of review applicable to a ruling on a motion to dismiss:
"'"'On appeal, a dismissal is not entitled to a p r e s umption of correctness. The appropriate standard of review under Rule 12(b)(6)[, Ala. R. Civ. P., ] is whether, when the allegations of the complaint are viewed most strongly in the pleader's favor, it appears that the pleader could prove any set of circumstances that would entitle [it] to relief. In making this determination, this Court does not consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but only whether [it] may possibly prevail. We note that a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper only when it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief.'
"'"622 So.2d at 299 (citations omitted)."
"'Knox v. Western World Ins. Co., 893 So.2d 321, 322 (Ala. ...

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