Sovereign Immunity

July 23rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Sovereign Immunity

SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY-PENN STATE PAYMENT OF LOCAL TAXES Indiana University of PA v. Jefferson County Board of Assessment Appeals, 2020 Pa. Cmwlth. LEXIS 740 (December 3, 2020) (Leavitt, P.J.)  The trial court held that the University is not immune from local taxation and is not entitled to a tax exemption. On appeal, the University argues that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is immune from local taxation, as is every Commonwealth agency, except where the legislature has expressly authorized the local taxing authority to levy tax. Because no such statutory authorization exists here, the University contends that the trial court erred. The Supreme Court has explained that with regard to tax immunity, the “pivotal factor” should be “whether the institution’s real property is so thoroughly under the control of the Commonwealth that, effectively, the institution’s property functions as Commonwealth property.” Pennsylvania State University v. Derry Township School District, 731 A.2d 1272, 1276 (Pa. 1999) (Penn State II). A factor in this inquiry is whether the Commonwealth has majority control of the board of governors or board of trustees. 6 Id. at 1275-76. With the presumption of tax immunity established, the…

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

Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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.