University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Aaron-Brush v. Bentley PB-AL-0006
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-01091 ( N.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On June 10, 2014, a same-sex couple who had been legally married outside the State of Alabama filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the State of Alabama. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, asked ... read more >
On June 10, 2014, a same-sex couple who had been legally married outside the State of Alabama filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the State of Alabama. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that Alabama's refusal to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples validly entered into outside of the State violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs were married in Massachusetts in June 2012. They have been together for 17 years and now reside in Alabama. The plaintiffs have a seven-year-old daughter. The plaintiffs' suit challenged the constitutionality of Section 36.03 of the Alabama Constitution and Alabama Code § 30-1-19 which prohibit the State from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples entered into in other jurisdictions. The plaintiffs claimed that Alabama's refusal to recognize their marriage unlawfully denied them numerous benefits and legal protections available to opposite-sex couples, including the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated spouse, file joint tax returns, and gain access to health insurance, retirement benefits, property protections, and inheritance.

On September 22, 2014, the District Court for the Northern District of Alabama (Judge R. David Proctor) dismissed the claims against the Alabama governor, granting the parties' joint motion.

On February 5, 2015, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (PB-OH-0003 in this Clearinghouse), Judge Proctor granted the parties' joint motion to amend the scheduling order: all potentially dispositive motions were due by July 31, 2015.

On July 21, 2015 the defendants filed a motion to dismiss this claim on the grounds that the Obergefell decision resolved the question underlying plaintiffs’ claim and that there was no longer a live case or controversy. On October 13, 2015, Judge R. David Proctor dismissed this case without prejudice, and costs were to be taxed against the defendants. 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189368.

On December 8, 2015, the district court denied plaintiffs’ renewed motion for attorney’s fees. The court held that there had not been any court-ordered change in the legal relationship between the parties, and that the plaintiffs have not shown that they (or their actions) generated any judicial relief. This case had become moot because the defendants voluntarily complied with new law created by decisions in other cases (namely, Obergefell), and the plaintiffs were therefore not "prevailing parties" entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs appealed to the Eleventh Circuit on January 5, 2016. 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189369.

On January 30, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling and concluded that there was no judicially sanctioned change in the relationship of the parties that would justify an award of attorney’s fees. 678 Fed. Appx. 792.

On May 26, 2017, the parties submitted informal notice that counsel no longer sought to pursue costs in this action. There has be no further action on this case.

Nate West - 11/20/2014
David Hamstra - 04/08/2015
Dawn Lui - 12/04/2018


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Discrimination-basis
Family discrimination
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) State of Alabama
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are a same-sex couple who were legally married out of state.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2014
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:14-cv-1091 (N.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-AL-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 54] (2015 WL 13424524) (N.D. Ala.)
PB-AL-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/08/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 35]
PB-AL-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Proctor, R. David (N.D. Ala.) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0002 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Crew, Wendy Brooks (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Dillard, Joel E. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Esseks, James Dixon (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Livingston, Avery Corinne (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Marshall, Randall C (Florida) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Segall, Joshua Steven (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-9000
Segall, Robert D. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Still, Edward (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Strangio, Chase (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-0001 | PB-AL-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Byrne, David Bryson Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-9000
Davis, James William (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-9000
Howell, Laura Elizabeth (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-9000
Lowe, J. Haran (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-9000
McCollum, Frank Timothy (Alabama) show/hide docs
PB-AL-0006-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -