Local Government Law Bulletin #139

Do Intentional Tort Claims Always Defeat Public Official Immunity?

Monday, September 19, 2016


The doctrine of public official immunity protects state and local officials from personal liability for negligence claims, so long as they act within the scope of their authority and without malice or corruption. The case law is divided, though, over whether the immunity can be a defense against intentional tort claims such as assault, battery, and false imprisonment. This bulletin (1) concludes that public official immunity can bar intentional tort claims in certain situations and (2) provides a framework for determining whether the immunity applies to the specific claims alleged in particular cases. Additionally, the bulletin’s appendices list those local government positions that the courts have deemed eligible for public official immunity and those that the courts have classified as ineligible.    

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