Jones v. Watkins

Decision Date01 December 1978
Citation364 So.2d 1144
PartiesRichard Walter JONES v. Roger WATKINS et al. 77-100.
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Myron K. Allenstein, Gadsden, for appellant.

Jack W. Torbert of Torbert, Turnbach & Warren, Gadsden, for appellees.

EMBRY, Justice.

Richard Walter Jones filed an action against Roger Watkins and Charlie Watkins. The portions of his complaint pertinent here read:

"1. On or about April 25th, 1975, Plaintiff was employed by Watkins Metal Company of Gadsden, Alabama and was working on a contract at Acipico Pipe and Steel of Birmingham, Alabama.

"2. That on said date, Plaintiff was severely injured in that his leg was broken and he sustained numerous injuries to all parts of his body.

"3. That Roger Watkins and Charlie Watkins were the supervisors of said job and as such were responsible and had a duty to provide safe working conditions at said job site.

"4. That Defendants negligently allowed dangerous conditions to exist at said job site which were the proximate cause of Plaintiffs' injuries."

Although not relevant to a decision we note that Jones' wife Karen was added as a plaintiff by amendment, claiming damages for loss of consortium.

To the complaint, the Watkinses filed a motion to dismiss the grounds of which are:

"1. For that said complaint fails to state a cause of action against the Defendants.

"2. For that it affirmatively appears from the allegations of said complaint, that the Defendants in this cause were fellow employees of the Plaintiff, Richard Walter Jones, as defined in Title 26, Section 312 of the Code of Alabama, and that they are not third-parties against whom an action may be maintained.

"3. For that it affirmatively appears from the allegations of the complaint, that the Plaintiff cannot maintain this action against the Defendants who were his fellow employees in that said action is prohibited by Title 26, Section 312 of the Code of Alabama.

"4. This motion is based upon the affidavit of Roger Watkins, which is attached hereto as Exhibit "A", and Charlie Watkins, which is attached hereto as Exhibit "B", and incorporated by reference."

Each Watkins affidavit reads:

"My name is Roger Watkins (Charles Watkins). On 25 April, 1975, I was an employee of Watkins Metal Company of Gadsden, Alabama. On said date, Richard Walter Jones was also an employee of Watkins Metal Company of Gadsden, Alabama, and both Richard Walter Jones and Watkins Metal Company of Gadsden, Alabama were subject to the Workmen's Compensation Act of the State of Alabama."

The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, undoubtedly treating it as a motion for summary judgment as permitted by Rule 12(b)(6), ARCP. Judgment was entered dismissing Jones' action and he appeals.

The trial court dismissed Jones' action before this court announced its decision in Grantham v. Denke, 359 So.2d 785 (Ala.1978), holding unconstitutional the immunity from suit granted co-employees by, what is now, § 25-5-11, Code 1975.

The Watkinses argue that under Grantham and subsequent decisions of this court:

"While the majority of the Court holds that the involved section of the code is unconstitutional under Section 13 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, it is the contention of the Appellee, that as set forth in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Maddox, that the Workmen's Compensation Act itself, provides the 'remedy' which Section 13 of the Constitution requires. In the instant case, as in many cases, the supervisory personnel, are the president and vice president of a corporation, which is owned by them. Accordingly, the Plaintiff in this case gets a double shot, one at the corporation, which is owned by the individuals, and in fact, one and the same as the individuals, and then has another cause of action against them in their individual capacity. * * * "

The "involved" section of the code is that part of § 25-5-11, Code 1975, reading:

" * * * provided, however, that neither an officer, director, agent, servant or employee of the same employer nor his personal representative nor any workmen's compensation insurance carrier of the employer nor any officer, director, agent, servant or employee of such carrier nor any labor union or any official or representative thereof making a safety inspection for the benefit of the employer or its employees shall be considered a party other than the employer against whom such an action may be brought. * * * "

At the outset, we note there is No evidence in the affidavits that the Watkinses are other than...

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3 cases
  • Fireman's Fund American Ins. Co. v. Coleman
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • August 8, 1980
    ...officers. To that narrow statement, the answer is no, because the question of an officer's immunity was not raised. See Jones v. Watkins, 364 So.2d 1144 (Ala.1978). Moreover, that question was not raised in Jones. The dictum in Jones indicates that an officer's liability may depend on his f......
  • Mission Ins. Co. v. Barnett
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Alabama
    • September 11, 1979
    ...provision of the policy is ambiguous and must be construed in favor of the defendants. 15. In the recent decision of Jones v. Watkins, 364 So.2d 1144 (Ala.1978), the Alabama Supreme Court recognized the significant distinction between "employee" and an "executive officer" for the purposes o......
  • Home Indem. Co. v. Reed Equipment Co., Inc.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • March 7, 1980
    ...Mission Ins. Co. v. Barnett, 476 F.Supp. 925 (S.D.Ala.1979), employing the functional test alluded to by way of dictum in Jones v. Watkins, 364 So.2d 1144 (Ala.1978), held that individuals who were acting in the capacity of executive officers of the named insured corporation were not co- em......
1 books & journal articles
  • Medical Malpractice as Workers' Comp: Overcoming State Constitutional Barriers to Tort Reform
    • United States
    • Emory University School of Law Emory Law Journal No. 67-5, 2018
    • Invalid date
    ...1980) (plurality opinion). 267. Grantham v. Denke, 359 So. 2d 785 (Ala. 1978). The issue was raised but not decided in Jones v. Watkins, 364 So. 2d 1144, 1146 (Ala. 1978), which suggested that maybe the answer might turn on what function these officers and directors performed in the company......

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