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Title XXXVI STATUTORY ACTIONS AND TORTS

Chapter 537

Effective - 28 Aug 2005 bottom

  537.600.  Sovereign immunity in effect — exceptions. — 1.  Such sovereign or governmental tort immunity as existed at common law in this state prior to September 12, 1977, except to the extent waived, abrogated or modified by statutes in effect prior to that date, shall remain in full force and effect; except that, the immunity of the public entity from liability and suit for compensatory damages for negligent acts or omissions is hereby expressly waived in the following instances:

  (1)  Injuries directly resulting from the negligent acts or omissions by public employees arising out of the operation of motor vehicles or motorized vehicles within the course of their employment;

  (2)  Injuries caused by the condition of a public entity's property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury directly resulted from the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either a negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the course of his employment created the dangerous condition or a public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.  In any action under this subdivision wherein a plaintiff alleges that he was damaged by the negligent, defective or dangerous design of a highway or road, which was designed and constructed prior to September 12, 1977, the public entity shall be entitled to a defense which shall be a complete bar to recovery whenever the public entity can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged negligent, defective, or dangerous design reasonably complied with highway and road design standards generally accepted at the time the road or highway was designed and constructed.

  2.  The express waiver of sovereign immunity in the instances specified in subdivisions (1) and (2) of subsection 1 of this section are absolute waivers of sovereign immunity in all cases within such situations whether or not the public entity was functioning in a governmental or proprietary capacity and whether or not the public entity is covered by a liability insurance for tort.

  3.  The term "public entity" as used in this section shall include any multistate compact agency created by a compact formed between this state and any other state which has been approved by the Congress of the United States.

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(L. 1978 H.B. 1650 § 1, A.L. 1985 S.B. 323, A.L. 1989 H.B. 161, A.L. 2005 H.B. 58)

(1988) Law abrogating sovereign immunity is procedural as it creates no new cause of action but only provides remedy for cause of action whose remedy was previously barred and therefore applies retrospectively. Wilkes v. Mo. Highway and Transportation Commission, 762 S.W.2d 27 (Mo.banc).

(1988) Broken down stop sign constituted dangerous condition of government property and sovereign immunity is waived.  Donahue v. City of St. Louis, 758 S.W.2d 50 (Mo.banc).

(1988) Placement of a folding partition against a ladder created a dangerous condition of property within meaning of section 537.600, RSMo. Alexander v. State, 756 S.W.2d 539 (Mo.banc).

(1989) Public housing authorities are statutory municipal corporations and exercise only governmental functions which are subject to governmental immunity. Privately owned rental property enrolled in rental assistance program is not "public property" and was not within statutory exception to governmental immunity. (Mo.App. W.D.) Tyler v. Housing Auth. of Kansas City, 781 S.W.2d 110.

(1992)  The sovereign immunity doctrine is uniquely applicable to governmental entities and is not transferable to an agent of that entity.  The public duty doctrine holds that public officers are not liable in tort for injuries or damages sustained by particular individuals that result from a breach of the duty that officers owe to the general public.  Automobile accident victim's attempt to intermingle the two doctrines fails.  The abrogation of sovereign immunity in no way implicitly abrogated the public duty doctrine. Beaver v. Gosney, 825 S.W.2d 870 (Mo.App.W.D.).

(1992) A medical center, a not-for-profit corporation, which is not controlled by or answerable to public officials, public entities, or public itself, is not a public entity protected by sovereign immunity.  Stacy v. Truman Medical Center, 836 S.W.2d 911 (Mo.banc).

(1993) Court finds a direct conflict between the state doctrine of sovereign immunity and the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act to extent public hospital claimed to be immune from "patient dumping" claim.  Federal act preempted state sovereign immunity doctrine.  Helton v. Phelps County Regional Medical Center, 817 F.Supp. 789 (E.D. Mo.).

(1993) Doctrine of sovereign immunity applies to regional planning commission.  Where slander is not among the circumstances obligating insurer to pay on behalf of the regional planning under insurance policy, regional planning commission did not waive its sovereign immunity against plaintiff's claim.  Balderre v. Beeman, 837 S.W.2d 309 (Mo. App. S.D.).

(1993) Where high speed chase by law enforcement officers resulted in one civilian death and substantial property damage and personal injury to others, statute that waives sovereign immunity for negligent acts or omissions of public employees in operation of motor vehicles in course of employment does not create duty running from individual defendants to either general public or to plaintiffs individually.  Boyle v. City of Liberty, Mo., 833 F.Supp. 1436 (W.D. Mo.).

(1993) Plaintiff may have action against city because official immunity doctrine, which provides that public officers are not personally liable for negligent acts related to discretionary duties and performed within scope of their authority, is different legal concept than sovereign immunity doctrine which waives sovereign immunity for injuries resulting from negligent acts of public employees arising out of operation of motorized vehicles.  Bachmann v. Welby, 860 S.W.2d 31 (Mo. App. E.D.).

(1993) Statute waives sovereign immunity in certain cases, however, statute does not authorize awarding of costs against state agency.  In instances where general assembly waives immunity regarding costs, it explicitly specifies such waivers as it provides in sections 550.020, RSMo, and 536.087, RSMo.  Richardson v. State Highway and Transportation Commission, 863 S.W.2d 876 (Mo.banc).

(1999) Doctrine of res ipsa loquitur cannot be used to establish the dangerous-condition exception of this section.  Hale ex rel. Hale v. City of Jefferson, 6 S.W.3d 187 (Mo.App.W.D.).

(2001) Section does not bar claims for contribution when compensatory damage claims for injuries result from dangerous conditions on public property and a joint obligation on the liability is shared by tort-feasors.  McNeill Trucking Company, Inc. v. Missouri State Highway and Transportation Commission, 35 S.W.3d 846 (Mo.banc).

(2006) Section waives governmental employer's sovereign immunity for its employees' negligent operation of motor vehicle; as official immunity is personal to the governmental employee, the employer is not shielded from liability based upon respondeat superior. Davis v. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, 193 S.W.3d 760 (Mo.banc).

(2009) Operation of a city-owned emergency medical service is a governmental function, even though the city charges a fee for the service; that service provides a general public benefit and serves the public health and welfare.  Richardson v. City of St. Louis, 293 S.W.3d 133 (Mo.App. E.D.).

(2016) Charter school's participation in Missouri public entity risk management fund did not operate as a waiver of sovereign immunity and thus school bus driver's wrongful discharge claim on discrimination on basis of sexual orientation was barred.  Moore v. Lift for Life Academy, Inc., 489 S.W.3d 843 (Mo.App.E.D.).


---- end of effective   28 Aug 2005 ----

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