MUNICIPAL LAW – Appellate Court holds that maintenance of storm drains is a discretionary function:

9/19/2017 | Peter K. O'Keefe
pkokeefe@jacksonokeefe.com

Category: Municipal Law

Peter K. O'Keefe

In a case involving flood damage to a home, the Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of the municipality.  The allegation had been that municipal employees were negligent in failing to provide adequate street drainage.  It was claimed that there was a ministerial duty to maintain storm drains.  On appeal, the Appellate Court agrees that the duty to maintain storm drains is ministerial, but holds that the manner in which a municipality chooses to exercise that duty is discretionary.  The court notes that nothing in the town code mandates particular measurements to be taken to meet that responsibility.  The court also holds that the plaintiffs were not identifiable victims subject to imminent harm, since the overall probability of flooding conditions occurring such as to cause the plaintiffs damage were relatively low.  The plaintiffs therefore failed to establish imminent harm.  Accordingly, governmental immunity applied and the defendants were appropriately granted summary judgment.  Northrop v. Whitkowski, AC 38878 (8/1/17)

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