Amanda Jean Odom v Wayne County et al.

Intentional Tort Immunity for Governmental Employees - the "Good Faith" Exception

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Mr. Tucker represented a deputy sheriff and Wayne County in a suit by an individual claiming malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. The client received an unfavorable verdict in the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court's denial of the deputy's claim of governmental immunity. With only two weeks to do so, Mr. Tucker filed an application and brief in support for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Court initially denied the application, with three justices agreeing that the Court should hear the case. Realizing the import of the issues and the close vote at the application stage, Mr. Tucker filed a motion for reconsideration, which the Court granted, a rare event. The Court asked the parties to address the issue of individual immunity from intentional torts for all governmental employees in the state of Michigan, an issue that had been in disarray for over 20 years. After Mr. Tucker fully briefed the issues and presented oral argument on the case, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals, agreeing with Mr. Tucker that the lower court had applied the wrong legal standards to the deputy's conduct. The Court enunciated the proper standard to be applied when lower courts address liability issues of individual governmental employees accused of intentional torts. This case has had major jurisprudential significance on governmental entities and their individual employees, and the cost of future litigation has been significantly reduced as a result of this opinion. The Michigan Court of Appeals subsequently re-affirmed and actually strengthened the analysis to be applied when considering whether a law enforcement officer (and, by extension all governmental employees) could be held liable in intentional tort for actions and conduct undertaken in the performance of their jobs. This significant victory continues to positively impact governmental entity and individual governmental employee liability issues in Michigan state and federal courts.

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Law Offices of Carson J. Tucker, JD, MSEL on:

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