Gary Bruce discusses sovereign immunity in the case of A.J. Burgess – an Atlanta toddler who was in need of a kidney transplant. A.J.’s father, Anthony Dickerson, was scheduled to donate his kidney to A.J., but was denied the surgery because he was arrested for a parole violation just prior to the scheduled operation.
Gary talks about the state’s liability in this kind of situation, and whether a lawsuit could have been filed if there were complications due to the transplant denial. The ability to sue the state arises from a waiver of the common law which gives states sovereign immunity. This means the state doesn’t get sued unless the state approves the lawsuit. There are stringent requirements for suits against the state. The case must fulfill certain requirements and notice must be provided to the state as well as any agencies that may be involved. The time to provide such notice can be very short – sometimes as little as 6 months, so hiring a lawyer in these situations is very important.
If you have any questions about sovereign immunity or a possible case against a city, the state or other government agency or authority, we welcome your call to Gary at the Law Offices of Gary Bruce. Call 706-596-1446 to discuss your case and set up a meeting and free, confidential and no obligation consultation.
Narrator: Now, answering your questions about the law and legal issues this is Legal Break with attorney, Gary Bruce.
Maureen: Hello there today, Gary with us as always, thank you so much for joining us again.
Gary: Thank you.
Maureen: We’re talking about interesting topic today. A story of Atlanta where young boy needs a kidney, his father is the perfect match, but his father is actually on parole and had a violation. The state is not allowing the dad to donate the kidney right away. Interesting, huh?
Gary: Yeah, I’m surprised by that. I would have thought that we would have seen a little more compassion. Although, I don’t know the facts so maybe time is not of the essence. Certainly, you would think that there would be exceptions made. The way I see the law; it breathes, it lives, it has a soul, it should allow for this kind of thing. So, maybe they haven’t gotten it to a judge yet. You know, you can, I’m sure somebody has petitioned the court, and maybe it hadn’t been heard, and hopefully a judge will hear it and know the facts. And I’m certain they can overrule an administrative decision to allow this to go forward if it’s necessary to save the innocent child.
Maureen: Yeah, absolutely. And so I guess if the child doesn’t make it, Gary, or you know ends up dying in this interim period, could you or would you have a legal recourse against the state?
Gary: You know, I don’t know whether there would be a case or not. Here’s what it comes down to; in the ancient times and well about 1080 the Kings and England decided that they would allow- they wanted common law. They wanted a law that was common to England- and so they started to develop what we call, common law. And so, it was- it was consistent. And that’s what our basis here in Georgia and Alabama is, is the English common law. So, under a common law states are sovereign. The king was sovereign- the king could decide whether he would be sued for something, or whether he would be subject to having to pay for something done. So, there are exceptions to generally what the with the rule was, they had sovereign immunity, it was what it was called. So the state doesn’t get sued unless they say, “it’s okay to sue.” And if you want to bring such a case, it has to fall within the parameters of the cases that have recognized as susceptible to suit. So, that’s the answer, that’s the quick answer, which is, I don’t know. There’s certain things you can bring a lawsuit against the state for, and certain things you can’t. And if you do, just be aware that there are very strict requirements on how to file such cases. There has to be notice given, there’s has to be notice given to several different entities including the agencies involved, and has to be done in a timely manner, that could be as little as six months. So, it’s not like a normal lawsuit, there’s really a lot of differences, and it’s complicated. Probably need to talk to a lawyer about it.
Maureen: Yeah, absolutely. Very, very interesting topic. We hope we hope the very best for this for this little boy.
Gary: Certainly, absolutely.
Maureen: Thank you so much for joining us today, Gary, and we look forward to seeing in the very next, Legal Break.