Nance By and Through Nance v. Matthews

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtHORNSBY
Citation622 So.2d 297
Parties85 Ed. Law Rep. 342 Brandi NANCE, By and Through her mother and next friend, Jo NANCE v. James Michael MATTHEWS, et al. 1911659.
Decision Date09 April 1993

Page 297

622 So.2d 297
85 Ed. Law Rep. 342
Brandi NANCE, By and Through her mother and next friend, Jo NANCE
v.
James Michael MATTHEWS, et al.
1911659.
Supreme Court of Alabama.
April 9, 1993.
Rehearing Denied June 18, 1993.

Page 298

Robert M. Shipman, Huntsville, for appellant.

Donald B. Sweeney, Jr. of Rives & Peterson, Birmingham, for appellees.

HORNSBY, Chief Justice.

The plaintiff, Brandi Nance, by and through her mother and next friend, Jo Nance, appeals from the dismissal of her claims against James Michael Matthews, individually and in his official capacity as principal of Corley Elementary School; Shannon Cole, individually and in her official capacity as school nurse of Corley Elementary School; and William Scott, individually and in his official capacity as supervisor of special education services of the Marshall County School System. The trial court allowed Nance to proceed with her claim against Joyce Garrett, a special aide at Corley Elementary School. Therefore, Nance's claim against Garrett is not at issue in this appeal. The trial court entered a Rule 54(b), A.R.Civ.P., order making the dismissal final as to Matthews, Cole, and Scott.

Nance's complaint alleges that the Marshall County School System hired Garrett as a special aide to care for Nance, a disabled minor who suffers from spina bifida, while Nance attended Corley Elementary

Page 299

School, a school in the Marshall County School System. Nance alleges that Scott, the supervisor of special education services, was informed of Nance's need, because of recent bladder surgery, to be catheterized while at school on January 22, 1992, and that Scott, in turn, informed Garrett of this need. Nance alleges that she had been catheterized at school on many occasions in the past, but that this procedure was particularly urgent on January 22, 1992, because of recent surgery.

She contends that Garrett was the special aide whose duty it was to catheterize Nance, but that Garrett negligently failed to do so on January 22, 1992, after she had been informed of the need to do so. Nance contends that the failure to catheterize her was the result of negligence and willful and wanton conduct on the part of the defendant, and that as a result she sustained physical injuries, mental trauma, and other injuries, and she claimed $2 million in damages.

Nance argues that the trial court improperly dismissed her claims against Matthews, the principal; Cole, the nurse; and Scott, the supervisor of special education services. Nance's complaint alleges that these defendants negligently supervised Garrett and that they inadequately supervised her in a willful and wanton manner. Nance also argues that these three defendants negligently retained Garrett and that they did so in a willfully and wantonly deficient manner after they knew or should have known of several prior occasions on which, Nance says, Garrett was negligent in her care of Nance. For instance, Nance alleges that these defendants knew or should have known of an incident when Garrett was pushing Nance in a wheelchair and allowed the wheelchair and Nance to roll down a flight of stairs. Nance contends that, in light of their knowledge of Garrett's previous misconduct toward Nance, these defendants' retention and supervision of Garrett was negligent and willfully and wantonly deficient.

These three defendants argue that the trial court properly dismissed Nance's claim against them because, they contend, they possess sovereign immunity from suit under Article I, § 14, Alabama Constitution of 1901. They argue that they are entitled to both absolute immunity and qualified immunity for the performance of discretionary functions.

On appeal, a dismissal is not entitled to a presumption of correctness. Jones v. Lee County Commission, 394 So.2d 928, 930 (Ala.1981); Allen v. Johnny Baker Hauling, Inc., 545 So.2d 771, 772 (Ala.Civ.App.1989). 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 any set of circumstances that would entitle her 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 she 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 entitle the plaintiff to relief. Garrett v. Hadden, 495 So.2d 616, 617 (Ala.1986); Hill v. Kraft, Inc., 496 So.2d 768, 769 (Ala.1986).

Nance argues that the trial court erred in dismissing Matthews, Cole, and Scott on the basis that they had immunity under Article I, § 14. To resolve this issue, this Court must consider: 1) whether, as to these defendants, the plaintiff's action is, in effect, one against the State (if so, they would have absolute immunity from suit); and, if not, then 2) whether the defendants are entitled to substantive or qualified immunity on the basis that they were engaged in the exercise of a discretionary public function. See Phillips v. Thomas, 555 So.2d 81, 83 (Ala.1989).

Article I, § 14, provides that "the State of Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any court of law or equity." Therefore,

Page 300

the State and its agencies possess absolute immunity from suit. Phillips v. Thomas, 555 So.2d at 83; Hickman v. Dothan City Bd. of Educ., 421 So.2d 1257, 1258 (Ala.1982); Gill v. Sewell, 356 So.2d 1196, 1198 (Ala.1978); Milton v. Espey, 356 So.2d 1201, 1202 (Ala.1978). In determining whether state officers and employees possess absolute...

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307 practice notes
  • State v. Epic Tech, LLC, 1180675, 1180794
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 25, 2020
    ...that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief.’" Nance v. Matthews, 622 So. 2d 297, 299 (Ala. 1993) (citations omitted)." Ex parte Drury Hotels Co., 303 So.3d 1188, 1193 (Ala. 2020)." ‘ "To be entitled to a permanent injuncti......
  • LIBERTY NAT. v. UNIV. OF ALA. HEALTH SERVS.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 19, 2003
    ...favor, it appears that the pleader could prove any set of circumstances that would entitle [the pleader] to relief.' Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297, 299 (Ala.1993); Raley v. Citibanc of Alabama/Andalusia, 474 So.2d 640, 641 (Ala.1985). This Court does not consider whether the plaintiff wi......
  • EX PARTE ALABAMA DEPT. OF YOUTH SERVICES
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 10, 2003
    ...that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief." Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297, 299 (Ala.1993) (citations omitted). Accord Cook v. Lloyd Noland Found., Inc., 825 So.2d 83, 89 (Ala.2001), and C.B. v. Bobo, 659 So.2d 98, 104 ......
  • Perryman v. Wilcox Cnty. Bd. of Educ. (Ex parte Wilcox Cnty. Bd. of Educ.), 1170705
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • March 8, 2019
    ...consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but only whether [she] may possibly prevail." ’ Id. (quoting Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297, 299 (Ala. 1993) ). We construe all doubts regarding the sufficiency of the complaint in favor of the plaintiff. Butts, 775 So.2d at 177." Ex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
307 cases
  • State v. Epic Tech, LLC, 1180675, 1180794
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 25, 2020
    ...that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief.’" Nance v. Matthews, 622 So. 2d 297, 299 (Ala. 1993) (citations omitted)." Ex parte Drury Hotels Co., 303 So.3d 1188, 1193 (Ala. 2020)." ‘ "To be entitled to a permanent injuncti......
  • LIBERTY NAT. v. UNIV. OF ALA. HEALTH SERVS.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 19, 2003
    ...favor, it appears that the pleader could prove any set of circumstances that would entitle [the pleader] to relief.' Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297, 299 (Ala.1993); Raley v. Citibanc of Alabama/Andalusia, 474 So.2d 640, 641 (Ala.1985). This Court does not consider whether the plaintiff wi......
  • EX PARTE ALABAMA DEPT. OF YOUTH SERVICES
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 10, 2003
    ...that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief." Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297, 299 (Ala.1993) (citations omitted). Accord Cook v. Lloyd Noland Found., Inc., 825 So.2d 83, 89 (Ala.2001), and C.B. v. Bobo, 659 So.2d 98, 104 ......
  • Perryman v. Wilcox Cnty. Bd. of Educ. (Ex parte Wilcox Cnty. Bd. of Educ.), 1170705
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • March 8, 2019
    ...consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but only whether [she] may possibly prevail." ’ Id. (quoting Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297, 299 (Ala. 1993) ). We construe all doubts regarding the sufficiency of the complaint in favor of the plaintiff. Butts, 775 So.2d at 177." Ex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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