BUSINESS TORTS - STATE AGENT IMMUNITY - MCGLATHERY V. ALABAMA AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL UNIVERSITY
McGlathery v. Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, [Ms. 2101017, Aug. 3, 2012] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2012). Granting rehearing and substituting a new opinion, the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Vannessa McGlathery's action against the university, its board, and other officials, but reversed the dismissal of her action as to Nancy Washington Vaughn, the university's director of human resources, in her individual capacity. The principal argument against the university was that it did not have statutory authority to delegate the power to dismiss an employee. The court rejected that argument with an analysis of the applicable statutes and of cases holding that local school boards do not have authority to delegate the power to dismiss, but distinguishing those cases. As to Vaughn, the court applied the principle that a co-employee can be sued for intentional interference with business or contractual relations if the co-employee was acting outside the scope of her authority and was acting with actual malice. Because the complaint alleged these two elements, it stated a claim under this theory. Further, because McGlathery alleged that Vaughn's actions "were willful, malicious, fraudulent, in bad faith, beyond her authority, and/or under a mistaken interpretation of law," the complaint was sufficient to withstand Vaughn's motion to dismiss on the ground of state-agent immunity.