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CBE Liability Issues Assistant Professor Trey Allen UNC School of Government Don Wright, NCSBE December 2014 Directors Training.

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Presentation on theme: "CBE Liability Issues Assistant Professor Trey Allen UNC School of Government Don Wright, NCSBE December 2014 Directors Training."— Presentation transcript:

1 CBE Liability Issues Assistant Professor Trey Allen UNC School of Government Don Wright, NCSBE December 2014 Directors Training

2 PART I: TORT LIABILITY

3 “All characters appearing in these scenarios are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”

4 Scenario #1 L.G. Pringle Director, Robertson County Bd. of Elections

5 Scenario #1 (cont’d)

6

7

8 Scenario #2

9 Scenario #2 (cont’d)

10 Employer Liability for Employees Employee action must be within scope of employment. Rule applies to government and private employers. Why sue employers? Special defenses for local governments

11 Landowner Liability For lawful visitors, landowner must use reasonable care to keep premises safe and to warn of hidden dangers. In case of trespasser, landowner is liable if the trespasser’s injury resulted from the landowner’s willful or wanton conduct, or was intentionally caused by the landowner.

12 Negligence Negligence = failure to exercise degree of care that reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances. Effect of Contributory Negligence?

13 Governmental Immunity The Doctrine of Governmental Immunity bars tort claims against local gov’ts arising from governmental functions. It does not bar tort claims for injuries arising from proprietary functions.

14 Governmental Immunity (cont’d)

15 Governmental v. Proprietary Functions Governmental function – discretionary, political, legislative, or public in nature – performed for the public good on behalf of the State Proprietary function – commercial or chiefly for the private advantage of the compact community

16 Governmental Immunity (cont’d) Sample Governmental FunctionsSample Proprietary Functions Operation of county ambulance serviceOperation of water system that sells water for public consumption Decision to construct sewer systemOperation of municipal sewer system which charges fees as public enterprise Building inspectionOperation of municipal golf course Tax collectionOperation of municipal arena or civic center Collection of parking finesBusiness interactions with private contractors Responding to fire callOperation of hospital Erection & maintenance of jailUse of public park to generate revenue Operation of public libraryOperation of municipal airport

17 Governmental Immunity (cont’d) Premises Liability General Rule Local government liability for unsafe premises depends on whether property is being used for a governmental or proprietary function. What about multi-use property? Bynum v. Wilson County

18 Governmental Immunity (cont’d) Local gov’t may waive governmental immunity by – Purchasing liability insurance or – Participating in governmental risk pool.

19 Official Capacity v. Individual Capacity Official capacity claim = claim against unit of gov’t. Individual capacity claim = claim directly against public official or employee.

20 Public Official Immunity Doctrine bars tort claims against “public officials” in their individual capacities for acts undertaken within the scope of their duties unless they act maliciously or corruptly. Doctrine does not protect public employees.

21 Public Official Immunity (cont’d) Public official – Office created by constitution or statute – Takes oath of office – Exercises discretion in performance of duties – Exercises sovereign power of state Public employee – Duties are ministerial in nature

22 Public Official Immunity (cont’d) Examples of Public Officials Elected Officials Sheriff’s Deputies Police Officers EMS Directors Principals/Assistant Principals Building Inspectors Notaries

23 Public Official Immunity (cont’d) Examples of Public Employees Street sweepers Emergency medical technicians Public school teachers Environmental Health Specialists

24 Public Official Immunity (cont’d) CBE Members? CBE Director? Precinct Judges? Precinct Election Assistants? Student Election Assistants?

25 Scenarios Scenario #1 – County or CBE liable for harm to plaintiff? – CBE Director personally liable? Scenario #2 – County or CBE liable for harm to plaintiff? – Precinct election assistant personally liable?

26 Open Meetings Law If violation of Open Meetings Law Court may order public body to pay prevailing party’s reasonable attorney’s fees. Court may order member(s) of public body to personally pay prevailing party’s reasonable attorney’s fees. – Court must find member(s) knowingly and intentionally committed violation. – No personal liability if member seeks and acts on attorney’s advice.

27 Best Tort Liability Defense? Exercise reasonable care!

28 PART II: EMPLOYEE CLAIMS

29 Injury to Employees Workers Compensation Election Officials Temporary Employees

30 Prevent Claims! Police for potential hazards Warn of hazards Be alert Don’t create traffic danger Defuse situations that might lead to violence, especially in the buffer zones Maintain protections/warnings once made

31 Your county will handle claims County Risk Manager County Attorney Liability Carrier for County

32 MISCELLANEOUS Taxation of Election workers pay This is a special page set up by the SSA. State-&-Local-Governments/Election-Workers- Reporting-and-Withholding This is a special page set up by the IRS. Unemployment coverage…Different for precinct officials as opposed to temporary office staff. Overtime…Different for precinct officials as opposed to temporary office staff.


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