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State-Agent Immunity Related To State Corrections Officials: Ex Parte Price And Lovelace

Ex parte Price and Lovelace, [Ms. 1160956, Jan. 12, 2018] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2018). This unanimous decision by Justice Bryan, (Stuart, C.J., Bolin, Parker, Murdock, Shaw, Main, Wise, and Seller, JJ., concur) grants defendant’s petition for the writ of mandamus and directs the Montgomery Circuit Court to dismiss claims against Cheryl Price, the former warden at Donaldson Correctional Facility, and Greg Lovelace, Deputy Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections. The plaintiff, Parrish, a correctional officer, was injured when he was attacked by an inmate who surprised him by coming through a door Parrish believed to be locked. Ms. *2-3. Parrish sued Price and Lovelace in their individual capacities, contending that they willfully breached their duties by failing to monitor the prison and by failing to repair or replace allegedly defective locks. As to Warden Price, the Court noted that she had broad responsibility for the safety and security of the prison including the safety of correctional officers such as Parrish. As such, Warden Price fell within Cranman Category 2 which protects a State-agent when “‘exercising ... judgment in the administration of a department or agency.’” Ms. *12.

As to Deputy Commissioner Lovelace, whose responsibilities include renovations to and modifications of DOC facilities including Donaldson Correctional Facility, Ms. *15, the Court concluded that “even more so than Warden Price, Lovelace operates at the planning and decision-making level of government.” Ms. *16.

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