Liability Self-Insurance Fund Entitled to Immunity from Tort Liability


Ex parte Association of County Commissions of Alabama Liability Self-Insurance Fund, Inc., [Ms. 1210183, June 17, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2022). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Bryan, Sellers, Mendheim, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Shaw, J., concurs in the result; Wise, J., recuses) issues a writ of mandamus to the Jackson Circuit Court directing the court to grant the motion to dismiss of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama Liability Self-Insurance Fund, Inc. (“the Fund”) on the ground of immunity afforded to the fund as a liability self-insurance fund (“LSIF”) under § 11-30-7, Ala. Code 1975. The action was related to a fire at “Dock B,” at the Jackson County Park that resulted in numerous fatalities and injuries. “The plaintiffs alleged that the Fund had undertaken a duty to Jackson County, as its insured, to annually, and as otherwise necessary, ‘inspect and/or audit the premises of the Park and Dock B to assist in implementing and monitoring a safety program” that was intended to identify, prevent, and warn Jackson County about potential hazards, including fire-safety hazards.” Ms. *3.

Reiterating that “[t]he first step in interpreting a statute is to ascertain and effectuate the legislative intent by looking to the plain language of the statute,” Ms. *6, the Court concludes

[A]ccording to the plain language of § 11-30-7, the liability of an LSIF is limited to the contractual liability that an LSIF may assume pursuant to § 11-30-3, i.e., contractual liability to member counties, solvent insurance companies, parties to management and consulting agreements, and employees and other contractual liability incident to the operation of an LSIF. Tort liability to third parties does not fall within the exception to the grant of immunity to LSIFs in § 11-30-7. Accordingly, we conclude that the plain language of § 11-30-7 bars liability against the Fund for the plaintiffs’ claims arising out of the Fund’s own alleged tortious conduct.

Ms. *9.

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