Supreme Court Holds Sheriff’s Office Not Entitled To Immunity

April 29, 2008

The Supreme Court published Jones v. Cross, which dealt with whether or not the Sheriff’s Office was entitled to official immunity for the acts of its deputies, and if so, whether KRS 70.040 waives it.  Sheriff’s deputy injured two state troopers while attempting to catch an evading suspect.  The liability of the deputy was not an issue.  The liability of the Sheriff’s Office for the actions of his deputies was.

After reviewing the common law the Court declared the Sheriff’s Office immune from suit under the doctrine of absolute official immunity.  The true question was whether KRS 70.040 wiaved this immunity.  The Court found it had.  It noted:

A literal or plain reading of the statute clearly imposes liability on the sheriff in his official capacity for acts committed by his deputies . In construing a statute, words must be given their literal, usual, and ordinary meaning unless they have acquired a technical meaning .

The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s opinion, overruling the trial court, which had found KRS 70.040 did not waive immunity.

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