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Legal Memorandum: Establishing a Special Relationship Claim

Issue: Under the law of Vermont, when pursuing a claim based on special relationship case for sexual abuse in a school or camp setting, how is foreseeability established?

Area of Law: Education Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Special relationship claim; School or camp; Sexual abuse
Jurisdiction: Vermont
Cited Cases: 83 Wash. 2d 514; 519 P.2d 981; 137 A. 207; 100 Vt. 299
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 12/01/2009

In the Marshall Islands, a governmental entity is solely liable for the torts of its officers, employees or agents while working in the scope of their duties.  M.I. Code, tit. 3, § 1006(1), (3).  However, the government is not liable for actions of an employee exercising due care in the performance of a statutory or discretionary duty.  Id. § 1006(2).  While the statute does not specifically provide, this immunity generally applies equally to a government employee acting in the scope of his employment.  See, e.g., DiBerardino’s, Inc. v. Rome Consol. Sch. Dist., 510 N.Y.S.2d 791 (Sup. Ct. 1986) (“the awarding of a bid is a discretionary act of the responsible official”).  Accordingly, individual liability is appropriate only when the government employee acts outside the scope of his employment.

In J & S Servs., Inc. v. Tomter, 139 P.3d 544 (Alaska 2006), the Alaska Supreme Court reversed a dismissal of a claim of individual liability against the Director of Aviation for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.  In that case, the Department of Natural Resources solicited bids to lease an airplane to assist in firefighting.  J & S Services submitted the only bid.  Considering J & S to be “a pain in the ass,” Tomter personally contacted several companies to solicit competing bids.  When that proved unsuccessful, he extended the deadline to bid and convinced a friend to form a company for the sole purpose of submitting a competing bid.  Tomter awarded the contract to that bidder. 

J & […]

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