Can I Sue the Government?
Some of the more complex cases a law firm can take on are claims against governmental agencies. Not only are damages that a plaintiff can recover from governmental agencies capped by law, but the claims that can be brought against governmental agencies are very limited. The general rule is that the government and its employees are immune from claims and lawsuits. However, Colorado law provides limited instances where the state has elected to waive that immunity, such as in motor vehicle accident cases.
In the case of L.J. v Carricato, the Colorado Court of Appeals evaluated whether certain claims against the City of Colorado Springs and Office Carricato, an officer with the City of Colorado Springs Police Department, brought by the father of a two-year-old who died after being beaten by his mother’s boyfriend, were prohibited by the CGIA. The father’s lawsuit was based on his claims that the City and Officer Carricato failed to report child abuse to the appropriate state department that the father had brought to their attention on multiple occasions.
The Court of Appeals had to consider whether claims brought by the father under the Child Protection Act of 1987 (CPA), a negligence (wrongful death) claim, and other theories of negligence could be brought against the City and Officer Carricato.
The Colorado Court of Appeals determined that the CGIA prohibited the claim against the City for its alleged violation of the CPA, negligence (wrongful death), and negligence per se. However, the Court of Appeals also determined that the trial court was required to hold a hearing to determine whether Officer Carricato’s was “willful and wanton.” Although the father’s claims for negligent wrongful death, negligence per se, and violation of the CPA would ordinarily be prohibited by the CGIA, public employees are not immune from such claims if it is determined that their acts or omissions are “willful and wanton.” The case was returned to the trial court for a hearing to determine whether Office Carricato’s acts or omissions were “willful and wanton.”
This case demonstrates the complexity of the CGIA, and the legal expertise needed to navigate claims against governmental agencies or employees. If you or a loved one has been injured at a governmental facility or by a governmental employee, contact Mintz Law Firm for a free case evaluation.