In search of civil justice
by our readers
Apr 01, 2013 | 3553 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I have been practicing law for almost 15 years and I primarily represent individuals who have been killed or seriously injured as a result of someone’s negligence. Many of my cases involve state, county and city employees and the agencies for which they worked. The issue of immunity for these government agencies and employees is an issue I have encountered many times. The vast majority of the public has no idea what immunity is and how it greatly limits victims’ ability to seek legal recourse for wrongs that have been perpetrated against them by these agencies and their employees.

A recent example is the tragedy that occurred at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, where a sign collapsed, killing a young boy and seriously injuring his mother. There is an ongoing investigation and it has yet to be determined if the Airport Authority or the city of Birmingham or its employees shared any responsibility in causing this incident.

If any of these entities or their employees are found to be at fault, those involved could be completely protected because of legal principles known as “sovereign immunity” and “state-agent immunity.” This immunity does not allow a victim to bring a civil lawsuit against governmental entities and some state employees for money damages. Protecting these entities and their employees in a tragedy such as this would be a travesty of justice.

My heart goes out to the family involved in this tragedy, and also to other victims in Alabama who will have their access to the courtroom denied due to outdated immunity laws. Though the incident at the airport was tragic, let’s hope that it leads people to reconsider their views on civil justice, especially regarding immunity.

Tommy James
Morris, Haynes, Hornsby, Wheeles & Knowles
Birmingham
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