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Melton v. Bowie

Supreme Court of Alabama

October 25, 2019

Darrio MELTON, as Mayor of the City of Selma
v.
Corey D. BOWIE, in his official capacity as a member of the Selma City Council, et al

         Appeal from Dallas Circuit Court (CV-18-900256)

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          Kenneth J. Mendelsohn of Jemison & Mendelsohn, P.C., Montgomery, for appellant.

          Randall Morgan, Elizabeth Brannen Carter, and Reed Morgan Coleman of Hill, Hill, Carter, Franco, Cole & Black, P.C., Montgomery, for appellees.

         BRYAN, Justice.

         Darrio Melton ("the mayor"), as mayor of the City of Selma ("the city"), appeals from a judgment entered in favor of the members of the Selma City Council ("the council"). We affirm.

         In September 2018, the council adopted Ordinance No. 0108-17/18 ("the ordinance"). The ordinance gives the council the power to appoint the city's tax collector, chief of police, and chief of the fire department "in accordance and pursuant to [§ ] 11-43-5, [Ala. Code 1975]." In relevant part, § 11-43-5, Ala. Code 1975, provides that "[t]he council may provide for a... tax collector, chief of police, and chief of the fire department and shall specifically prescribe their duties." The mayor vetoed the ordinance shortly after it was passed by the council. However, the council later overrode the mayor's veto, making the ordinance a part of the city's municipal code.

         In October 2018, the mayor sued the members of the council in their official capacities. Named as defendants were council members Corey D. Bowie, Angela Benjamin, Samuel Randolph, Michael Johnson, Johnnie Leashore, Miah Jackson, Susan Youngblood, Jannie Thomas, and Carl Bowline (hereinafter referred to collectively as "the defendants"). In his complaint, the mayor alleged that the ordinance violates § 11-43-81, Ala. Code 1975, which provides, in part, that the mayor "shall have the power to appoint all officers [of the city or town] whose appointment is not otherwise provided for by law." The mayor sought a judgment declaring the ordinance invalid; the complaint also sought preliminary and permanent injunctions preventing the implementation of the ordinance.

         The defendants filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P., asserting that the complaint failed to allege a claim on which relief may be granted. The mayor did not file a response to the motion to dismiss. Following a hearing, the trial court entered a judgment granting the motion to dismiss, without providing a specific reason for its ruling. Shortly thereafter, the mayor filed a motion to stay the judgment pending an appeal to this Court, and the trial court denied the motion to stay. In its order denying the motion to stay, the trial court stated, in part, that the law "is very clear on the issue presented in this case. The Court finds that the [mayor] will not be successful on the merits of an appeal, unless the Alabama Supreme Court decides to break with years of precedent." The mayor then appealed.

"The appropriate standard of review under Rule 12(b)(6) is whether, when the allegations of the complaint are viewed most strongly in the pleader's favor, it appears that the pleader could prove

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any set of circumstances that would entitle [him] to relief. Raley v. Citibanc of Alabama/Andalusia, 474 So.2d 640, 641 (Ala. 1985); Hill v. Falletta, 589 So.2d 746 (Ala.Civ.App. 1991). In making this determination, this Court does not consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but only whether [he] may possibly prevail. Fontenot v. Bramlett, 470 So.2d 669, 671 (Ala. 1985); Rice v. United Ins. Co. of America, 465 So.2d 1100, 1101 (Ala. 1984). 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 ...


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