Justia Alabama Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Rights
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Main & Associates, Inc., d/b/a Southern Springs Healthcare Facility, filed an action in the Bullock Circuit Court, on behalf of itself and a putative class of Alabama nursing homes, against Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBS), asserting claims of breach of contract, intentional interference with business relations, negligence and/or wantonness, and unjust enrichment and seeking injunctive relief. BCBS removed the case to the the federal court, arguing among other things, that Southern Springs' claims arose under the Medicare Act and that the Medicare Act, as amended by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (the MMA) completely preempted Southern Springs' state-law claims. Southern Springs moved the federal court to remand the case to the circuit court, arguing that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over its claims. The federal court granted the motion and remanded the case to the Bullock Circuit Court. After remand, BCBS moved the circuit court for a judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Southern Springs had not exhausted its administrative remedies and that the circuit court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the case. The circuit court denied BCBS's motion, and BCBS petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the circuit court to dismiss Southern Springs' claims. Upon review, the Court concluded that Southern Springs' claims were inextricably intertwined with claims for coverage and benefits under the Medicare Act and that they were subject to the Act's mandatory administrative procedures and limited judicial review. Southern Springs did not exhaust its administrative remedies, and the circuit court did not have jurisdiction over its claims. Therefore, the Court granted BCBS's petition and issue a writ of mandamus directing the circuit court to dismiss the claims against BCBS. View "Main & Associates, Inc. v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama" on Justia Law

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AltaPointe Health Systems, Inc. (AHS), appealed a Mobile Probate Court's order finding it in contempt of its "Order of Outpatient Commitment" for Donald Bernoudy based on AHS's failure to comply with 22-52-10.3(e), Ala. Code 1975. Bernoudy refused treatment and was appointed a guardian ad litem to appear for several status hearings before the probate court, but the sheriff was unable to find him. When it did, Bernoudy was taken into custody, where subsequently he was deemed a "real and present threat of substantial harm" to himself and the public. At a show cause hearing, the court found that Bernoudy was "a long time mental health consumer, who [was] well known to the Court and should [have been] well known to AHS" and that AHS failed on multiple occasions to comply with its orders with regard to Bernoudy's commitment orders. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that while "[t]he probate court's frustration in this case [was] understandable. . . it [was] clear that the probate court did not find AHS in contempt because it had not complied with a specific provision of its . . . outpatient commitment order. Rather, the probate court found AHS in contempt because it had not complied with the reporting provisions set forth in 22-53-10.3(e). . . a violation of a statute is not a proper ground for a finding of contempt." Accordingly, the Court dismissed this appeal with instructions that the probate court set aside its order finding AHS in contempt. View "AltaPointe Health Systems, Inc. v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Defendants the Colbert County Board of Education ("the Board"); and the individual members of the Board and members of the Colbert County High School appealed a trial court's judgment that granted Plaintiff Felecia James's motion for a preliminary injunction. On or about May 21, 2010, an incident occurred at Colbert County High School (CCHS) involving J.H., Plaintiff's minor child, and another minor enrolled in CCHS. The details of the incident were disputed, but they led the assistant principal of the school to suspend both students for three days for allegedly fighting on school property during school hours. Plaintiff appeared before the Board to discuss the situation. The Board apparently took no action, and Plaintiff "individually and as mother and guardian of J.H." sued the Board and the individually named defendants asserting state-law and federal-law claims She also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the Board members in their official capacities were immune from the state-law claims filed against them insofar as those claims sought monetary damages. As such, the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over those state-law claims against the officials in their official capacities. However, the Board members were not immune from Plaintiff's state-law claims insofar as she sought injunctive relief based upon the Board members' alleged fraud, bad faith, or actions that were beyond the Board members' authority or that were taken under a mistaken interpretation of law. The Court noted that the Board and its members were not immune from the federal-law claims filed against them. Based on the foregoing, insofar as the Board appealed the preliminary injunction against it based upon the state-law claims filed by Plaintiff, the Supreme Court dismissed their appeal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Because the Court reversed the preliminary injunction, the Court declined to order the trial court to vacate the preliminary injunction entered against the Board insofar as it was based on those claims. View "Colbert Cty. Bd. of Edu. v. James" on Justia Law