Bd. of Cty. Comm’rs V. Bassett

8 P.3d 1079 (Wyo. 2000)



The Wyoming Governmental Claims Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 1-39-101 through 1-39-121 (1999), retains sovereign immunity except as specifically provided by statute. A statutory exception, Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-39-112, provides that a governmental entity is liable for damages resulting from tortious conduct of peace officers while acting within the scope of their duties.


Appellees were driving on a highway when they encountered a roadblock. At the direction of appellants' officers, passed through the roadblock just ahead of the high-speed flight of a criminal suspect, whose car crashed into appellees' vehicle just after it cleared the roadblock. The trial court held appellants' officers to the standard of the ordinarily prudent police officer in similar circumstances, refused to include the suspect among those whose fault was compared, and rejected appellants' claim of qualified immunity. A jury ruled in favor of appellees.


Should the willful conduct of the criminal suspect fleeing from police officers be compared with the negligence of appellants’ officers in calculating apportionment of liability for appellees’ injuries?




Judgment reversed. The trial court improperly left the criminal suspect out of the apportionment of fault calculation, as to find otherwise would have unfairly exposed appellants to the possibility that they would be held to answer for his misconduct. Further, appellants were entitled to a jury instruction that the actions of appellants' officers could have resulted in liability only if the jury found "extreme and outrageous conduct" on the part of the officers.

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