Sovereign Immunity – ALDOT Director

Ex parte John R. Cooper, [Ms. 1200269, Sept. 30, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Parker, C.J.; Bolin, Shaw, Wise, Bryan, Mendheim, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Sellers, J., concurs in the result) issues a writ of mandamus to the Morgan Circuit Court directing dismissal of claims against John R. Cooper, the director of the Alabama Department of Transportation (“ALDOT”). Plaintiff Hulsey alleged that he lost control of his vehicle as a result of the negligence of ALDOT employees who applied “an improper mixture of anti-icing brine and diesel fuel” to the highway, Ms. *2, and asserted “individual capacity” claims against Cooper for “fail[ing] to supervise and train ALDOT employees and to ensure that they followed ALDOT policies.” Ibid.

Citing Barnhart v. Ingalls, 275 So. 3d 1112, 1122 (Ala. 2018), the Court holds the “claims against Cooper were, in effect, official-capacity claims against the State, they were not claims against him individually,” Ms. *8, because “[a]part from his official position, Cooper owed no duty to keep the roadway in repair, to follow ALDOT policies, or to ensure that ALDOT policies were being followed by ALDOT employees.” Ms. *5.

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