Saturday, June 12, 2004

Important sovereign immunity case -

The Florida Supremes issued an opinion Friday that is a MUST READ for everyone who deals with government agencies. In this opinion, the court held that FHP does not owe a duty of care to either remove stranded vehicles from the highways, OR to actually dispatch (and promptly respond)troopers based on a 911 call.

I won't go through the whole case, but I believe it to be one of the most lucid decisions laying out the analysis of the waiver of sovereign immunity I've ever read. It clearly lays out the path that the courts should take in getting to the operational vs. policy/planning level (it's after you'd find a common law duty in a non-governmental agency), and it clearly lays out the governmental duties have to flow from the established statutes and rules rather than internal operating policies (unlike civil rights cases, which go past sovereign immunity in most instances though not always the 11th amendment).

I also think that opinion lays out a better bright line than most of the sovereign immunity cases. The dissent by Justice Pariente (joined by Quince) also does a very good job of describing an alternative view of the duty issue that would have resulted in liability.

And there's a great set of string cites to cases finding liability for failure to maintain or properly operate governmental facilities.

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