Issue: In Tennessee, are punitive damages available under the Governmental Tort Liability Act?
|Area of Law:||Constitutional Law, Government Claims, Litigation & Procedure|
|Keywords:||Punitive damages; Governmental Tort Liability Act; Willful acts by governmental entities|
|Cited Cases:||561 S.W.2d 148; 971 F. Supp. 308|
|Cited Statutes:||§ 1983|
The Act does not allow claims for intentional or willful acts by governmental entities. Tipton County Bd. of Educ. v. Dennis, 561 S.W.2d 148, 152 (Tenn. 1978). Because it is inappropriate to allow punitive damages for mere negligence, the Act does not authorize punitive damages. Id. at 152.
Punitive damages are unavailable against governmental entities under § 1983. Wagner v. City of Memphis, 971 F. Supp. 308, 322 (W.D. Tenn. 1997). But punitive damages are designed to punish and deter officials who have engaged in egregious wrongdoing and may be assessed in a § 1983 action. Id. at 322.