Legal Memorandum: Government Official's Immunity from Liability

Issue: Under what circumstances may a government official qualify for immunity from liability in Louisiana?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Immunity on public entities, their officers and employees; Entitlement to discretionary immunity; Performance of a discretionary function
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 996 So. 2d 1071; 653 So. 2d 232; 664 So. 2d 451; 649 So. 2d 410; 672 So. 2d 436; 874 So. 2d 863; 658 So. 2d 820; 991 So. 2d 1052; 556 So. 2d 1; 644 So. 2d 412; 655 So. 2d 333; 679 So. 2d 105
Cited Statutes: La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2798.1(B)
Date: 10/01/2009

Section 9:2798.1 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes states in pertinent part, “Liability shall not be imposed on public entities or their officers or employees based upon the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform their policymaking or discretionary acts when such acts are within the course and scope of their lawful powers and duties.”   La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2798.1(B).  This statute confers immunity on public entities and their officers and employees when they have engaged in a discretionary function “involv[ing] the permissible exercise of a policy judgment grounded in social, economic or public policy.”  Wilson v. Davis, 07-1929, p. 7 (La. App. 1 Cir. 5/28/08); 991 So. 2d 1052, 1058 (citing Fowler v. Roberts, 556 So. 2d 1, 15 (La. 1989)), writ denied, 08-2011 (La. 11/10/08); 996 So. 2d 1071.

In order to determine whether a government official is entitled to discretionary immunity from liability,*FN1 the court must examine whether (1) a state, regulation, or policy specifically prescribes the course of action; and (2) the challenged action is grounded in political, economic, or social policy.  Christian v. Fontenot, 672 So. 2d 436, 444 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/8/96) (holding that the defendants were entitled to discretionary immunity), writ denied, 96-1385 (La 09/13/96); 679 So. 2d 105.  Accord Taylor v. City of Shreveport, 653 So. 2d 232 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/7/95), writ denied, 95-1131 (La. 6/16/95); 655 So. 2d 333.  A governmental official […]

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