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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 118568 Find in a Library
Title: Police Civil Liability for Failure To Protect: The Public Duty Doctrine Revisited
Journal: American Journal of Police  Volume:8  Issue:1  Dated:(1989)  Pages:37-69
Author(s): J M Pellicciotti
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 33
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article assesses government liability under State law for failure of police to warn or otherwise protect individuals threatened with violence.
Abstract: Although the doctrine of sovereign immunity has declined, vestiges remain under the public duty doctrine. Under the public duty doctrine, police protection is a duty owed to the general public, not to a particular individual. Recently, however, some courts have rethought this approach and found the doctrine to be a form of sovereign immunity, since the actual effect of the public duty doctrine is to free government entities from particular liability. It is a barrier to plaintiff's recovery cast as a form of court-sponsored immunity. The public duty doctrine, as any form of sovereign immunity, cannot be justified, since it protects government from liability at the expense of justice for individual citizens harmed by governmental action or negligence. Although there is a "special circumstances" exception to the public duty doctrine, it is limited to those rare cases when a court order or collaborator situation exists, and it is interpreted narrowly to include only those instances where the police are reasonably aware of the danger. Subjecting government to the same State tort law application as that for private individuals will not produce dire economic consequences for government and will not unduly interfere with its ability to govern. 114 notes.
Main Term(s): Police legal limitations
Index Term(s): Legal liability; Negligence; Torts
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