Law School Case Brief
Commercial Carrier Corp. v. Indian River Cty. - 371 So. 2d 1010 (Fla. 1979)
In any organized society there must be room for basic governmental policy decision and the implementation thereof, unhampered by the threat or fear of sovereign tort liability. Liability cannot be imposed when condemnation of the acts or omissions relied upon necessarily brings into question the propriety of governmental objectives or programs or the decision of one who, with the authority to do so, determined that the acts or omissions involved should occur or that the risk which eventuated should be encountered for the advancement of governmental objectives.
In two separate cases, injured parties filed third-party complaints against respondent municipalities seeking indemnity and contribution against the municipalities for damage incurred from vehicular accidents for the negligent failure of the municipalities to maintain the stop sign at the intersection, and for its negligent failure to paint or replace on the pavement the word "STOP" in advance of the entrance to the intersection. In both cases, the petitioners argued that they were only passively negligent. The lower court in two separate decisions dismissed the complaints, and in a consolidated appeal petitioners contended that the lower court erred. Respondents asserted that all governmental functions were exempt from waiver by the wording ofFla. Stat. ch. 768.28(1) and (5).
Were the municipalities immune from suit?
Judgment that held that respondent municipalities were immune from tort liability was quashed and remanded. The court held that maintenance of a traffic light or maintenance of a stop sign were not activities that fell within the category of governmental activity, which involved broad policy or planning decisions. Thus, they were operational activities and, therefore, they were not immune from tort liability. The court held that although Fla. Stat. ch. 768.28 evinced the intent of the Florida Legislature to have waived sovereign immunity on a broad basis, nevertheless, certain discretionary governmental functions remained immune from tort liability. The court held that maintenance of a traffic light or maintenance of a stop sign were not activities that fell within the category of governmental activity
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