Montgomery judge rejects motion to dismiss Collier suit
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin spared all but one count in former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier's lawsuit filed against Robert Bentley and other defendants.
The ruling, made late Thursday, preserved seven counts in the lawsuit against Bentley, including three counts of invasion of privacy, three counts of defamation and one count of conspiracy.
Griffin stated in the order, "With respect to Collier's tort claims against Governor Robert Bentley, the Supreme Court has made clear that a constitutional officer can be held individually liable in tort for conduct outside 'the course and scope of the officer's employment.'"
Griffin went on to state that after parties have had the opportunity to conduct discovery, Bentley's attorneys can seek summary judgement on the ground that Bentley is entitled to immunity on these seven claims.
Griffin dismissed Collier's wrongful termination claim against Bentley.
"The Court concludes that Governor Robert Bentley's decision to terminate Collier was done in the line and scope of his authority and while executing the duties of the Office of Governor. Any ill motives by Governor Robert Bentley with respect to this termination as alleged by Collier are immaterial," the ruling stated. "Governor Robert Bentley is entitled to absolute immunity on these claims."
The motion to dismiss claims against the other defendants in the case, including former ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler, Rebekah Mason, her company, RCM, and Michael Robinson was also denied.
"Melissa and I are grateful for today's ruling and look forward to our day in court," Collier said in a statement after the ruling. "We are one step closer to getting justice, not only for us, but for the people of Alabama."
In a separate order, Griffin ruled the stay will remain in place for defendants Mason and RCM in this case, as Mason is entitled to her Fifth Amendment Rights while criminal investigations continue.
The State of Alabama is still footing the bill for Bentley's legal fees, despite his resignation. Attorneys were hired for all the cases filed against Bentley before he left office through legal contracts. State law allows for state officers to continue to be represented in these claims, even after they are separated from their position.
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