Austin v. ClarkAnnotate this Case
Donna Austin sued to recover for personal injuries she allegedly sustained when she fell on a sidewalk as she was leaving a graduation ceremony at Peach County High School. She filed the suit against Susan Clark, the Superintendent of Peach County Schools; C.B. Mathis, the Assistant Superintendent of Facilities of Peach County Schools; Bruce Mackey, the Principal of Peach County High School; and Chad Sanders, the Director of Maintenance of Peach County Schools. Austin alleged that the individual defendants negligently performed the ministerial duties of inspecting, maintaining and repairing the sidewalk and road where she fell. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the claims against them were barred by the doctrine of official immunity. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. After its review, however, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in granting defendants immunity from suit. The Supreme Court found that discovery in this case had been extremely limited, and it could not be said that the allegations of the complaint disclosed with certainty that Austin would not be entitled to relief under any state of provable facts asserted in support. According to the Court, it did not matter that "'Austin has pointed to no specific and clear procedures or methods for dealing with the purported hazard created by the drainage opening on the curb.' This is factual evidence which may or may not be developed during discovery and can be considered on a subsequent motion for summary judgment."