Exclusivity Provision of Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § 901, ET Seq. and Affirmance of Denials of Motions to Dismiss - Ex Parte Austal USA, LLC


Ex parte Austal USA, LLC, [Ms. 1151138, 1151244, Mar. 3, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2017). In another Cunningham Bounds case, the Supreme Court denies petitions for writs of mandamus by Austal USA, LLC, a shipbuilder in Mobile, which sought dismissal of a complaint brought by eight of its employees who alleged Austal intentionally injured them by requiring each to work with an improperly modified hand-held rotary saw that had previously injured dozens of Austal’s employees. Citing Rodriguez-Flores v. U.S. Coatings, Inc., 133 So. 3d 874 (Ala. 2013), the Court rejected Austal’s claim of absolute immunity under the Longshore Act upon concluding that Plaintiffs’ amended complaint stated potentially viable claims that Austal had intentionally injured its employees.

Rejecting arguments from Austal’s amici curiae, The Business Council of Alabama, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association, and the Shipbuilders’ Council of America, the Court concluded that Austal had not demonstrated a clear legal right to an order granting its Rule 12(b)(6) Ala. R. Civ. P. motions to dismiss because it was indeed possible that Plaintiffs could prevail with their claims:

In considering whether a complaint is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss, we must take the allegations of the complaint as true, Ussery v. Terry, 201 So. 3d 544, 546 (Ala. 2016); we do not consider “‘whether the pleader will ultimately prevail but whether the pleader may possibly prevail,’” Daniel v. Moye, [Ms. 1140819, November 10, 2016] ___ So. 3d ___, ___ (Ala. 2016) (quoting Newman v. Savas, 878 So. 2d 1147, 1149 (Ala. 2003) (emphasis added)); and “[w]e construe all doubts regarding the sufficiency of the complaint in favor of the plaintiff.” Daniel, ___So. 3d at ___. Furthermore, 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.’” Knox v. Western World Ins. Co., 893 So. 2d 321, 322 (Ala. 2004) (quoting Nance v. Matthews, 622 So. 2d 297, 299 (Ala. 1993)).

Ms. *14-15.

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