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IMMUNITY - EX PARTE TRIMBLE

Ex parte Trimble, [Ms. 1150029, Feb. 26, 2016] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2016). The Supreme Court grants mandamus to require a summary judgment for defendants, a teacher and a principal. The teacher prepared, and the principal gave to a student office aide for delivery, a confidential document about a student. The student office aide opened and read the document, and the student who was the subject of the document sued. The Court holds that the principal and the teacher were immune. The plaintiff argued that the defendants acted “beyond their authority by allegedly violating the Perry County Board of Education’s policy on confidentiality of student records.” The Court disagreed: “The use of a student office aide in this manner was not prohibited by any detailed policy, rule, or procedure.” Justice Murdock concurs in the result, criticizing the expansive use of the Ex parte Cranman test for immune conduct where the defendant was “discharging duties in accordance with a rule or regulation that prescribes the manner for performing these duties.” He asserts that the Court has improperly used this test to hold that a state agent acts beyond their authority when they fail to discharge duties pursuant to detailed rules or regulations. The opinion by Justice Main received five concurrences, so these Justices applied the existing test without adopting Justice Murdock’s more restrictive interpretation.

Related Documents: Ex parte Trimble 2-26-16

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