Sovereign Immunity

July 23rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Sovereign Immunity

SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY-COMMONWEALTH IMMUNITY-EXCEPTIONS-REAL ESTATE Wise v. Huntingdon County Housing Development Corp., Docket No. 97 MAP 2019, 2021 Pa. LEXIS 1834 (April 28, 2021) (Baer, C.J.)  We granted discretionary review of this matter to consider whether insufficient outdoor lighting of Commonwealth property, occurring because of the location on the property of a pole light and a tree blocking the light emitting from the pole light, constitutes a "dangerous condition of" the property for purposes of the real estate exception to sovereign immunity. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 8522(b)(4) (explaining that "sovereign immunity shall not be raised to claims for damages caused by ... [a] dangerous condition of Commonwealth agency real estate," sidewalks, and highways). For the reasons that follow, we answer this question in the affirmative. As the Commonwealth Court reached a contrary result, we reverse that court's order and remand this matter for further proceedings. We hold that the claim at issue is sufficient to invoke the real estate exception to sovereign immunity. Specifically, Wise has alleged the existence of a "dangerous condition," i.e., insufficient outdoor lighting. In order to meet the exception, that "dangerous condition" of insufficient outdoor lighting "must…

SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY-INDEMNIFICATION

May 22nd, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Sovereign Immunity

Soverign Immunity and an Indemnification Clause Lewis v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 2796, 581 U.S. ___ (April 25, 2017) Sotomayor, J. We have never before had occasion to decide whether an indemnification clause is sufficient to extend a sovereign immunity defense to a suit against an employee in his individual capacity. We hold that an indemnification provision cannot, as a matter of law, extend sovereign immunity to individual employees who would otherwise not fall under its protective cloak. This case arose in the context of an Indian tribe with gaming authority. We have never before treated a lawsuit against an individual employee as one against a state instrumentality.  A civil rights suit under 1983 against a state officer in his official capacity does not implicate the Eleventh Amendment and a state’s sovereign immunity from suit.  Federal appellate courts that have considered the indemnity question have rejected the argument that an indemnity statute brings the Eleventh Amendment into play in 1983 actions. In sum, although tribal sovereign immunity is implicated when the suit is brought against individual officers in their official capacities, it is simply not present when the claim is…

SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY-MANDAMUS-DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTIONS-EMPLOYMENT

January 17th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Sovereign Immunity

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Brimmeier v. Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, 147 A.3d 954 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2016).  The law is clear that sovereign immunity does not bar either mandamus or declaratory judgment action.  Therefore, to the extent that the Commission objects to mandamus and/or declaratory judgment actions, their preliminary objections should have been overruled.  Claim of contract breach and promissory estoppel upon employment agreement are barred by sovereign immunity.  The Commission is immune from claim of intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation claims.  PO’s to those claims should have been sustained.  Mandamus is not applicable in this particular case.  There is no claim under the Declaratory Judgment Act.  There is no viable breach of contract claim set forth.  Promissory estoppel was properly dismissed.