Plaintiffs, minor female children in the custody of Alabama’s Department of Youth Services (“DYS”), brought an action against DYS and its executive director, in which they alleged that the defendants failed to adequately respond to “a sexually hostile education environment” and sexual abuse and harassment. The plaintiffs brought federal claims under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. (“Title IX”) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“§ 1983”), and state-law claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and supervision of employees, and intentional misrepresentation. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the claims based on various immunity arguments. The defendants filed a petition for writ of mandamus directing the Alabama Supreme Court to dismiss the complaint. In ruling on the defendants’ petition, the Alabama Supreme Court considered each claim for immunity. First, the Alabama Supreme Court held that DYS was not entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment for claims brought under Title IX. Second, the Alabama Supreme Court found that the executive director was not entitled to federal qualified immunity for the § 1983 because the complaint alleged that he had notice of the sexual harassment and abuse yet failed to protect the plaintiffs from further harm. Finally, the Alabama Supreme Court considered the sovereign immunity provision of the Alabama constitution and found that dismissal of the plaintiffs’ state-law claims against the executive director in his official capacity was proper. Nonetheless, the Alabama Supreme Court found that the doctrine of state-agent immunity did not warrant dismissal of the plaintiffs’ state-law claims against the executive director in his individual capacity.
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