Rivera v. WashingtonAnnotate this Case
Although these two cases arose separately, they posed a singular legal issue for the Supreme Court’s review, and thus were addressed in the same opinion. In S15G0887, Akeem Washington, who was on probation for speeding, sued Shannon Rivera, a probation officer, and her administrative assistant, alleging that they failed to perform their ministerial duties when they swore out a warrant for Washington’s arrest for failure to pay a fine that Washington already had paid in fulfillment of the conditions of his probation. Rivera moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing she was immune from liability in Washington’s suit because her alleged actions were protected by either quasi-judicial immunity or sovereign immunity. The trial court denied the motion, ruling that it was possible that facts could be shown in discovery that would establish that neither quasi-judicial immunity nor sovereign immunity applied. Rivera did not attempt to file an application for interlocutory appeal from that order but filed a notice of appeal, asserting that she had authority to file a direct appeal under the collateral order doctrine. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. In S15G0912, Dan and Arlene Appelrouth sued their neighbors, Cesar and Janice Rodriguez, also naming Forsyth County and other unknown persons as defendants. The Appelrouths alleged that actions taken on the Rodriguezes’ property, as well as on the County’s road right of way and associated drainage ditch, caused water damage to the Appelrouths’ property, and raised claims of, inter alia, breach of legal duty, negligence per se, trespass, nuisance, and inverse condemnation. The Rodriguezes filed a cross-claim against the County, which filed motions to dismiss both the complaint and cross-claim, asserting sovereign immunity. The trial court denied the motions, ruling that it was possible that evidence could be established which would allow the Appelrouths and the Rodriguezes to prevail against the County’s claim of sovereign immunity. The County, like Rivera did not seek interlocutory appeal, and again the Court of Appeals dismissed on direct appeal, citing the collateral order doctrine as grounds for dismissal. Although the Court of Appeals applied incorrect analyses in these cases, the Supreme Court concluded it reached the correct results in dismissing the direct appeals filed by Rivera and Forsyth County.