20 Jul Claims Against State and Local Government Entities and Employees
Morris, Haynes, Hornsby, Wheeles, & Knowles prosecutes cases when state and local governmental entities and/or their employees are involved in the personal injury or wrongful death of an individual.
Laws that regulate government employees and agencies often lead to highly complex litigation. Plaintiffs may find it difficult to proceed successfully when faced with years of case history and claims of “sovereign immunity.” The general rule of sovereign immunity is that officers and agents of the State cannot be made defendants in any court.
Exceptions do exist. With a clear understanding of sovereign immunity issues and the rules by which governments must operate, the firm has successfully represented the interests of numerous individuals and their families who have been injured or killed at the hands of governmental employees.
If you would like to obtain legal advice about a situation involving a claim against a state or local government, please click here.
Remember that each case is tried on its own merits, and that a successful result in one case does not guarantee a successful result in your case.
Jane Doe v. Jefferson County Board of Education, et al.
Judgment of $3,000,000 (United States District Court for the Northern District of Birmingham, 2008). During 2004 and 2005, teacher Charles Andrews engaged in an inappropriate relationship with 8th grade female student Jane Doe. Andrews inappropriately touched, kissed, fondled and rubbed Jane Doe on school premises. He also sent her sexually explicit e-mails and notes. As a result of his conduct, Andrews was charged with first degree sexual abuse and eventually pled guilty to second degree sexual abuse. He was sentenced to a twelve month suspended sentence and twenty-four months unsupervised probation. He also was required to relinquish his teaching Andrews. A Federal judge subsequently entered a three million dollar judgment against Andrews. The judgment consisted of $500,000 in compensatory damages and $2,500,000 in punitive damages.
Tawanna Brown v. Police Office
Settlement of $1,018,000.00 (Jefferson County, 2008). Tawanna Brown, a nineteen year old freshman in college, was walking across the intersection of 14th Street and University Boulevard in downtown Birmingham when she was hit from behind by a police officer who was speeding through the intersection at a high rate of speed without his emergency lights and siren activated. She suffered a closed head injury, liver laceration, pulmonary laceration, severe right pulmonary contusion, and multiple fractures involving both lower limbs, pelvis, and three ribs. The case was legally significant due to the defenses of sovereign immunity.
Sue Ryan v. Hayes
Settlement of $1,106,141.50. (Circuit Court of Limestone County, 2002). Sue Ryan was assaulted and raped by an escaped convict from the Limestone Correctional Facility operated by the State of Alabama Department of Corrections. The inmate should never have been allowed to work on a chain gang due to his poor disciplinary record, but the prison reclassification officer failed to act on the inmate’s reclassification for more than thirty days – allowing the paperwork to sit on his desk. While out on a work detail, the inmate shook of his leg irons and escaped from the prison guard. Suit was brought against the leg iron manufacturer from Birmingham, England as well as the state prison officials responsible for the escape. The trial judge initially ruled that the case could not proceed due to existing Alabama law, but that ruling was appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. In this reported decision, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial judge and allowed the case to proceed. The leg iron manufacturer initially settled and then the Alabama Department of Risk Management eventually paid the limits available to the plaintiff and certain others injured by the inmate, although none as badly as Mrs. Ryan.