Municipal Immunity – Summary Judgment Procedure


Ex parte City of Huntsville and Reychal Lewis, [Ms. SC-2023-0150, Mar. 15, 2024] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2024). The Court (Bryan, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Wise, Mendheim, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur) issues a writ of mandamus to the Madison Circuit Court directing the court to dismiss claims against the City of Huntsville on grounds of municipal immunity. The minor plaintiff, Avery Meyers, was injured “when, while riding his bicycle on a street in Huntsville, he collided with a City bus driven by Reychal Lewis .” Ms. *2.

In concluding that the City was immune, the Court notes evidence that Meyers was racing another child and ran into the bus and concludes that “no evidence showed that Lewis could have done anything to avoid Meyers but failed to do so. Thus, under § 11-47-190, the City’s motion was properly supported. It thus was incumbent upon Meyers to present substantial evidence to show Lewis’s neglect, carelessness, or unskillfulness and that her acts proximately caused the collision.” Ms. *19.

Plaintiff relied on evidence the driver was driving twenty nine miles an hour despite a fifteen-miles-per-hour advisory sign. The Court rejects this contention, explaining that “Meyers does not point to any evidence creating an inference that any act by Lewis caused his injuries, especially in light of the evidence indicating that he was racing into a sharp curve in the wrong direction in the bus’s lane of travel.” Ms. *20.

Concerning Meyers’s reliance on his “testimony that the bus crossed into the opposing lane, “a little bit,” Ms. *21, the Court holds

…[T]his evidence is not “‘“evidence of such weight and quality that fair-minded persons in the exercise of impartial judgment c[ould] reasonably infer”’” that Lewis’s conduct caused Meyers’s injuries in light of the testimony of three other witnesses that the bus never left the correct lane of travel and the photographic evidence that confirmed that fact. Swan, 920 So. 2d at 1077-78 (citations omitted). The City correctly cites Ex parte City of Montgomery, 272 So. 3d 155, 165 (Ala. 2018), in which this Court adopted the rationale of the United States Supreme Court in such circumstances. “‘When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.’” Id. (police dashboard-camera video contradicted plaintiff’s version of facts)(quoting Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007) (video contradicted plaintiff’s version of events)). Meyers does not attempt to distinguish Ex parte City of Montgomery or Scott.

Ms. *21.

The Court denies the bus driver’s mandamus petition because she “has cited no authority indicating that, by obeying traffic laws, a municipal bus driver is properly considered a State agent performing her duties in the manner prescribed by statutes, rules, or regulations imposed on a State department or agency, we conclude that she has not demonstrated a clear legal right to a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to enter a summary judgment in her favor based on State-agent immunity, as contemplated by the third Ex parte Cranman category.” Ms. *29.

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