County Damages Cap - § 11-93-2, Ala. Code 1975 Inapplicable to Individual Capacity Claims Against Governmental Employees: Wright v. Cleburne County Hospital Board, Inc.
Wright v. Cleburne County Hospital Board, Inc., [Ms. 1151317, Dec. 29, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2017). This decision by Justice Murdock (Parker, Wise, and Bryan, JJ., concur; Stuart, C.J., and Bolin, Shaw, and Main, JJ., concur in the result; and Sellers, J., dissents) reverses the Cleburne Circuit Court’s interlocutory order determining that the $100,000 cap on damages set out in § 11-93-2, Ala. Code 1975, applied to plaintiff’s claims against three nurses employed by the Cleburne County Hospital Board. Ms. *3.
Plaintiff alleged that his decedent, Ms. Wright, died in the Cleburne County Hospital and Nursing Home as a result of a fall. Ms. *3. Plaintiff asserted individual capacity wrongful death claims against nurses caring for Ms. Wright. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the nurse employees of the county hospital board negligently failed to provide appropriate nursing care by, inter alia, negligently failing to properly assess Ms. Wright for the risk of falling and negligently failing to provide adequate safety measures. Ms. *4.
In holding that the individual defendants were not entitled to the $100,000 cap on damage claims against a governmental entity, the Court held that “a government employee sued for a tortious act committed in the line and scope of his employment may, in an appropriate case (i.e., where the employee has breached a duty he owes individually to a third party), be sued individually.” Ms. *8-9. The Court held that § 11-93-2 is not applicable to such individual capacity claims against governmental employees. Ms. *22.