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Alabama: Deputy Sheriffs Immune from Suit for Damages

The Alabama Supreme Court has held that deputy sheriffs, like sheriffs, are constitutional officers who, by virtue of the doctrine of state immunity, cannot be sued for monetary damages in their individual capacity when the acts that form the basis of the alleged liability were being performed within the line and scope of the deputy sheriff's employment.

In August 2008, Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Ernest Larry Donaldson was allegedly involved in a motor vehicle accident with Marie Jemison, as a result of which Jemison allegedly sustained serious personal injuries. Jemison filed suit against Deputy Donaldson, repeatedly acknowledging that the accident occurred while Donaldson was acting in the line and scope of his employment as a deputy sheriff.

After the Dallas Circuit Court refused to dismiss Jemison's claims against Deputy Donaldson, he petitioned for a writ of mandamus in the Alabama Supreme Court, arguing that Jemison's claims were barred by the doctrine of state immunity. The Court readily agreed. See: Ex Parte Donaldson, 80 So.3d 895 (Ala. 2011).

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Related legal case

Ex Parte Donaldson