Friday, August 5, 2016

A municipality's liability based on a special duty owed to an injured plaintiff.

Practice point:  When a municipality provides ambulance service by emergency medical technicians in response to a 911 call for assistance, it performs a governmental function and cannot be held liable unless it owed a special duty to the injured party. Such a special duty can arise, as is relevant in this action, where the government entity voluntarily assumed a duty to the plaintiff beyond what was owed to the public generally, or where the municipality voluntarily assumed a special relationship with the plaintiff.

Student note:  A municipality will be held to have voluntarily assumed a duty or special relationship with the plaintiffs where there is: (1) an assumption by the municipality, through promises or actions, of an affirmative duty to act on behalf of the party who was injured; (2) knowledge on the part of the municipality's agents that inaction could lead to harm; (3) some form of direct contact between the municipality's agents and the injured party; and (4) that party's justifiable reliance on the municipality's affirmative undertaking.

Case:  Holloway v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 05267 (2d Dep't July 27, 2016)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue:  An "error in judgment" charge.