eodis Sledge appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, et al. because of his allegations of negligence which he claimed were Leach's experts. died on April 16, 2020.
In Leodis Sledge, individual and trustee of the estate of Tanesha Leach, deceased, and on behalf of all erroneous recipients and heirs to the City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, by and through its Mayor, Shirley Washington, in her official capacity as Mayor of Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Pine Bluff City Council, by and through its ex-officio chair, Shirley Washington, in her official capacity; Rick Rhoden, in his official capacity as Head of the Pine Bluff Street Department; And Kelvin Sargent, in his official capacity as Chief of Police in the City of Pine Bluff No. CV-20-547, 2022 Ark.App. 23, Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV (January 19, 2022), the Court of Appeal ruled in application of the law. Bluff lies. As a result of these storms, Jefferson County was declared a disaster area by the governor. Pine Bluff was hit by hundreds of uprooted trees as a result of the extreme winds, and more than 33,000 Entergy customers lost power as a result of the storms. One of the felled trees partially blocked the road on Hutchison Street near Smart Street. From 13 April to 16 April, there were several documented 911 calls regarding the felled tree and several registers that indicated that both the police department and the street department were notified of the dropped tree. But no police were left at the site of the felled tree, no barriers were erected around the tree and the street was not closed.
On April 14, a motorist reported that he almost drove into the tree and that it could not be seen until you were "right" on that". Early in the morning of April 16, 2020, Kelli Shavers hit the felled tree as she was driving her vehicle. Tanesha Leach, a passenger in Shaver's vehicle, was killed. Shavers said she knew there was a fallen tree on Hutchison Street, but she did not remember exactly where it was, it was dark and even though she slowed down her vehicle because she thought she was getting close to the tree, she still hit the tree.
The appellants sought a summary judgment on Sledge's complaints and asserted municipal immunity on the grounds that it had no general liability under the Arkansas Code Annotated section 21-9-301.
The district court granted the motion for summary judgment, which found that although Sledge had relied on sufficient facts to establish a prima facie case of "complete indifference and deliberate disregard", Arkansas Code Annotated section 21-9-301 grants municipalities immunity from liability and from damages except to the extent that they may be covered by liability insurance, and on the basis of Mayor Washington's certificate, the city was not covered by liability insurance against negligent acts at the time of the incident n where Leach was killed. This timely appeal followed.
Arkansas courts have ruled that when a district court's decision specifies a particular basis for the court's decision, only that basis is subject to our review. If the decision of the district court is rather in the nature of a "general" decision and does not formulate a specific basis for its decision, the decision covers all the issues presented to the district court in the parties' summaries and arguments.
] The district court granted the defendants' request for summary judgment on the basis that the Arkansas Code Annotated section 21-9-301 grants municipalities immunity from liability and from action for damages except to the extent that they may be covered by liability insurance.
An action against a public employee in his service is only an action against the public employer. Qualified immunity is not a defense that is available to state entities, but only to state employers that are sued in their individual capacity. Since Sledge sued the civil servants only in their official capacity, qualified immunity is out of the question.
Sledge's complaint claimed "that the defendants' conduct constituted gross negligence; a ruthless indifference to the consequences of a known risk of an abnormally dangerous condition; and willful and reckless negligence without regard to Tanesha Leach's health and safety" because they knew the shot was " a dangerous condition that would likely result in serious injury or death if not removed from the street or if unsuspecting motorists traveled north Hutchinson Street was not warned of the danger ", and prosecutors failed to remove the fallen tree or warn no harm
Arkansas Code Annotated section 21-9-301, provides: school districts, public charter schools, special improvement districts, law enforcement agencies and certified br Anti-government officials employed by a public or private higher education institution, and all other political subdivisions of the State and any of their boards, commissions, agencies, authorities or other governing bodies shall be immune from liability and from actions for damages except in the to the extent that they can be covered by liability insurance. ”
This charter gives city employees immunity from civil liability for negligent acts but not for intentional acts.
] It is the court's duty to explain what the law is and not what it should be. When we determine the meaning of a charter, we interpret it exactly as it reads, and give the words their usual and usually accepted meaning in ordinary language. A simple reading of sections 21-9-301 provides immunity against damages for municipalities except to the extent that they can be covered by liability insurance.
The mayor's statement is sufficient evidence to establish that Pine Bluff did not have insurance coverage to provide coverage for Sledge's negligence claims. A certificate stating that there is no general liability protection establishes a prima facie right to a summary judgment. Sledge could not meet evidence with evidence to show that there was a genuine question of material facts in this matter. Therefore, the appellants had the right to municipal immunity and a summary judgment was correct.
If the city had bought insurance, the plaintiff would have a big deal and collect real damages. But the court interpreted the law as it was written and since there was no insurance purchased by the city, the legislature made them immune.
© 2022 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to the position of insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, handling insurance claims, bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurance fraudsters. policyholder.
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