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Posted on: March 26, 2019

Court Declines Invitation to Revamp Governmental Immunity

Courts 369, Liability 435

Courts 369 Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to adopt interpretation of governmental immunity statute that would reverse longstanding precedent and expand municipal liability under sec. 893.80(4) explaining that to do so would create problems for governmental entities that have managed their affairs relying on longstanding precedent and create the impression that the decision to overturn prior cases is undertaken merely because composition of court has changed. Engelhardt v. City of New Berlin, 2019 WI 2. Liability 435 - City was not entitled to immunity under sec. 893.80(4) for its negligence in failing to supervise non-swimming camper who drowned on municipal summer camp trip to aquatic center because the known danger exception applied. The known danger exception applies when an obviously hazardous situation known to a public officer or employee is of such force that a ministerial duty to correct the situation is created. Drowning by nonswimmer was a known danger and, under facts of case, camp staff had a ministerial duty to give camper a swim test before allowing her near the pool which they did not perform. Engelhardt v. City of New Berlin, 2019 WI 2.

Claire Silverman, The Municipality, March 2019
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