Ex parte Michael Brown.Annotate this Case
Michael Brown petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Lee Circuit Court to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P., the complaint filed against him by Christopher Beamon. Brown claimed the complaint should have been dismissed on the basis that the claims asserted in the complaint were barred by the applicable statute of limitations and that the doctrine of equitable tolling was inapplicable to suspend the running of the limitations period. IN 2017, pedestrian Beamon was injured when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Brown; the accident occurred in Auburn. In 2019, Beamon filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, naming as defendants Brown and Geico Casualty Company. In that complaint, Beamon asserted state-law claims and purported to invoke the federal court's diversity jurisdiction. Despite alleging diversity jurisdiction, the complaint stated that both Beamon and Brown were citizens of Alabama. Brown answered the complaint, asserting as a defense lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. In his motion to dismiss, Brown asserted the federal court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the complaint because complete diversity of citizenship was lacking between him an Beamon. Beamon moved to amend his complaint, asserting Brown was a citizen of Georgia, or alternatively, if the evidence was insufficient to support diversity jurisdiction, the court allow equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, which would allow him to refile his claims in a state court. On November 22, 2019, while the federal case was pending, but after the two-year limitations period had run, Beamon filed a second complaint, this time in the Lee Circuit Court, asserting the same claims against Brown as he had asserted in the federal court. The federal court dismissed the complaint without prejudice. The Alabama Supreme Court determined Brown did not establish a clear legal right to dismissal of the complaint filed at circuit court. "This case does not come within the exception to the general rule that a petition for the writ of mandamus is not the appropriate means by which to seek review of the merits of an order denying a motion to dismiss."