MUNICIPAL LAW: Appellate Court affirms summary judgment based upon governmental immunity for police dispatcher:

6/1/2016 | Peter K. O'Keefe

Category: Municipal Law


The plaintiff’s aunt called the police department, not 911, to report that eight teenage boys were bullying her daughter.  She requested that police come to her residence.  The dispatcher told the aunt that an officer would come by shortly.  The dispatcher entered the complaint into the computer system as a non-emergency juvenile call.  About one hour later, the aunt called the police again, stating that the situation was escalating and that no police officers had yet arrived.  A different dispatcher then changed the code from a non-emergency call to a disturbance call.  About eight minutes later, a shooting occurred, injuring the plaintiff, the caller’s nephew.  In the nephew’s lawsuit, the town officials moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were entitled to governmental immunity based upon the claim that the duties involved were discretionary in nature.  The court agreed and concluded that the identifiable victim/imminent harm exception to governmental immunity did not apply.  The Appellate Court affirms and holds that there was no basis for concluding that a ministerial duty was involved as to whether the initial call code should be listed as a non-emergency call or a disturbance call.  Further, the court held that even though the dispatcher stated that the police would arrive shortly, there was no mandatory duty that the police would respond immediately to the call.  Finally, the court held that the identifiable victim/imminent harm exception did not apply.  “In the present case, the individual defendants … had no way of knowing that the plaintiff would be present at [the aunt’s] residence.  The record reflects that the individual defendants were aware only that [the aunt] had called for police assistance and that a ‘clique’ of teenage boys was bullying her daughter.  The plaintiff was not a resident at the property and [the aunt] did not mention him in either of the calls to the West Hartford police prior to the shooting.”  Texidor v. Thibedeau, 163 Conn.App. 847 (March 22, 2016)

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