In today’s WSJ: sovereign immunity in Washington

by Walter Olson on December 24, 2005

I’ve got a “Rule of Law” column in today’s Wall Street Journal on the unique problems presented to the state of Washington by the decay of longstanding doctrines of “sovereign immunity” which have left it financially liable for many crimes committed against its citizens, specifically when perpetrated by parolees or persons under the supervision of social welfare agencies. (Walter Olson, “Lawsuit Reform in Washington”, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 24). For one such cause celebre, see Ted’s Sept. 19 post on the case of Joyce v. Washington Department of Corrections, in which the state was sued after a parolee ran a red light and killed a Tacoma woman. For more on freshman Washington AG Rob McKenna’s plans to curtail the state’s liability, see Andrew Garber, “McKenna eyes liability limits”, Seattle Times, Nov. 27. (More discussion: Jan. 4).

Also of interest to readers in Washington state: I’ll be in Seattle Friday, Jan. 6 as the luncheon speaker at the Washington Liability Reform Coalition’s annual meeting. Contact WALRC for more information about that event.

{ 3 comments }

1 markm 01.03.06 at 11:39 am

I’d think the real problem is that the state’s tort laws have left everyone vulnerable to ridiculous lawsuits, not that the state failed to exempt itself.

2 Overlawyered 01.03.06 at 10:57 pm

Sovereign immunity, cont’d

Following up on my WSJ piece about the problems that arose for the state of Washington when it came to be exposed to lawsuits alleging that it had failed to prevent some types of crime…

3 PointOfLaw Forum 01.12.06 at 11:01 pm

ACLU appeals Castle Rock v. Gonzales to int’l “human rights” tribunal

Reaffirming the general deference paid to state sovereign immunity, and following in the footsteps of its 1989 decision in DeShaney v. Winnebago County, the Supreme Court this June in Castle Rock v. Gonzales declined to create a constitutional right to…

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