Quakenbush v. Lackey, No. 49S04-9310-CV-1159

Docket NºNo. 49S04-9310-CV-1159
Citation622 N.E.2d 1284
Case DateOctober 25, 1993
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 1284

622 N.E.2d 1284
Tricia B. QUAKENBUSH, Appellant, (Plaintiff Below)
v.
Florence E. LACKEY and City of Indianapolis, Appellees.
(Defendants Below)
Samuel McAFFEE, Appellant, (Plaintiff Below)
v.
Florence E. LACKEY, and City of Indianapolis, Appellees.
(Defendants Below)
Mac MEDLIN and Larry Allen, Appellants, (Plaintiffs Below)
v.
Florence E. LACKEY, Indianapolis Police Department, and City
of Indianapolis, Appellees. (Defendants Below)
No. 49S04-9310-CV-1159.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Oct. 25, 1993.
Rehearing Denied March 8, 1994.

Page 1285

William D. Hall, Greenwood, for appellants Tricia B. Quakenbush and Samuel McAfee.

Alex Rogers, Steers Sullivan McNamar & Rogers, Indianapolis, for appellants, Mac Medlin and Larry Allen.

Mary Ann Oldham, City-County Legal Div., City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, for appellees, Florence E. Lackey and City of Indianapolis.

ON PETITION TO TRANSFER

KRAHULIK, Justice.

We grant transfer to arrest further expansion of the Tort Claims Act so-called "law enforcement immunity," and decide that a police officer travelling to the scene of a crime is not immune from civil liability for driving in a negligent manner. Ind.Code Ann. Sec. 34-4-16.5-3(7) (West Supp.1992). In doing so, we abandon the dicta of our earlier decision in Tittle v. Mahan (1991), Ind., 582 N.E.2d 796, and overrule

Page 1286

our earlier decision in Seymour Nat'l. Bank v. State (1981), Ind., 422 N.E.2d 1223, modified on reh'g 428 N.E.2d 203.

Tricia B. Quakenbush, Samuel McAfee, Mac Medlin, and Larry Allen (Plaintiffs-Appellants below) seek transfer after the Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of summary judgment against them and in favor of Florence Lackey and the City of Indianapolis (Defendants-Appellees below). Quakenbush v. Lackey (1992), Ind.App., 604 N.E.2d 1210. 1

Facts

Lackey was a patrol officer for the Indianapolis Police Department. On March 24, 1989, at approximately 11:20 p.m., Lackey was driving to the scene of a domestic disturbance where a man was reportedly striking a woman in a parking lot. Lackey was driving a marked police car with the headlights on; but witnesses stated that Lackey had not activated the flashing lights, the spotlights, the siren, or the horn. Lackey entered the intersection of 38th Street and Post Road on a red light and collided with the car driven by Quakenbush. The other plaintiffs were passengers in the Quakenbush vehicle.

Plaintiffs sued to recover for personal injuries and property damage. Lackey moved for summary judgment on the grounds that she and the City were immune under Ind.Code Sec. 34-4-16.5-3(7). The motions were granted in the trial court and affirmed by a majority of the Court of Appeals.

History of Cases Interpreting Section 3(7)

of the Indiana Tort Claims Act

Governmental immunity in Indiana is regulated by the Tort Claims Act, Ind.Code Ann. Sec. 34-4-16.5-1 through Sec. 34-4-16.5-22 (West 1983 & Supp.1992). Governmental entities and their employees are subject to liability for torts committed by them, unless the activity giving rise to the tort falls within one of the exceptions enumerated in the Act. Peavler v. Monroe County Bd. of Comm'rs. (1988), Ind., 528 N.E.2d 40, 42. Section 3(7), pursuant to which Lackey seeks immunity, provides:

A governmental entity or employee acting within the scope of his employment is not liable if a loss results from:

....

(7) the adoption and enforcement of or failure to adopt or enforce a law (including rules and regulations) unless the act of enforcement constitutes false arrest or false imprisonment.

Ind.Code Sec. 34-4-16.5-3(7).

The first case decided by this Court interpreting the extent of the "law enforcement immunity" in Section 3(7) was Seymour Nat'l. Bank v. State (1981), Ind., 422 N.E.2d 1223, modified on reh'g, 428 N.E.2d 203. In Seymour, this Court held that "all acts of enforcement save false arrest and imprisonment now render the State immune," 422 N.E.2d at 1226, and concluded that the State was immune from liability for the negligence of a state trooper during a high speed chase of a criminal suspect. In so holding, the 3-2 majority rejected the opinion of the two dissenting members (DeBruler and Hunter, JJ.), 422 N.E.2d at 1226-29, and the unanimous opinion of the First District Court of Appeals, (1979), 179 Ind.App. 295, 384 N.E.2d 1177, 1183-84, that the legislature had not intended to grant immunity for the breach of a private duty owed by governmental entities or employees to individual citizens.

Ten years later, we re-examined Section 3(7) to determine its applicability to cases involving jail detainees. Tittle v. Mahan (1991), Ind., 582 N.E.2d 796. Although we rejected the notion that immunity attaches to all law enforcement activities, in our effort to give due weight to stare decisis, we reaffirmed the holding in Seymour as applied to its facts. Accordingly, in Tittle, we stated that the immunity provided by Section 3(7) was limited to "activities attendant

Page 1287

to effecting the arrest of those who may have broken the law." 582 N.E.2d at 801. As another way of stating the same concept, we said in a companion case that immunity was limited to "actual attempts to effect an arrest of one who may have broken the law." City of Wakarusa v. Holdeman (1991), Ind., 582 N.E.2d 802, 803. We rejected the notion that the law enforcement immunity of Section 3(7) was co-extensive with the statutory obligations placed on law enforcement officials. City of Valparaiso v. Edgecomb (1992), Ind., 587 N.E.2d 96, 97. Thus, we held that law enforcement officers are not immune for treatment of pre-trial detainees, Tittle, 582 N.E.2d at 801; when searching for possible license plate violations, Wakarusa, 582 N.E.2d at 804; or when leading a funeral procession, Edgecomb, 587 N.E.2d at 97.

This case and the other cases we decide today, Fries v. Fincher (1993), Ind., 622 N.E.2d 1294, and Belding v. Town of New Whiteland (1993), Ind., 622 N.E.2d 1291, require us to focus more precisely on the parameters of "enforcement of a law" as it relates to arrest activities. The necessity to address once again the meaning of this phrase fulfills Justice Hunter's prediction in his dissent to Seymour, that the interpretation of the ambiguous term "enforcement of a law" will open "a Pandora's box of unsettling questions which will revolve around dubious distinctions between the 'administration' and 'enforcement' of laws." 422 N.E.2d at 1229. So, too, the statements in Tittle accomplish little more than requiring courts and litigants across this State to guess at our intended meaning of "actual attempt to effect an arrest," 2 and cause us to conclude that our reluctance to overrule a prior decision of this Court has produced an unworkable rule of law. 3

Moreover, further reflection upon the parameters of the common law governmental immunity doctrine existing at the time the Tort Claims Act was passed, the language of Section 3(7) itself, and correct application of the rules of statutory construction, convince us that the statements in Tittle do not comport with any sound legal principle other than stare decisis. Therefore, we begin anew our analysis of Section 3(7).

Status of Common Law When Tort Claims Act Enacted

At the time the Tort Claims Act became law, Indiana courts had determined not only that the king could do wrong, but that he could be held accountable for those wrongs. Governmental immunity for the breach of a private duty had been virtually abolished by judicial decisions. Brinkman v. City of Indianapolis (1967), 141 Ind.App.

Page 1288

662, 231 N.E.2d 169 (municipalities); Klepinger v. Board of Comm'rs. (1968), 143 Ind.App. 178, 239 N.E.2d 160 (counties); Perkins v. State (1969), 252 Ind. 549, 251 N.E.2d 30 (state proprietary functions); Campbell v. State (1972), 259 Ind. 55, 284 N.E.2d 733 (state governmental functions). 4

Nonetheless, the erosion of governmental immunity at common law did not leave governmental entities and their employees subject to liability for every mistake. Rather, as the court in Campbell noted, governmental units were not liable for all acts or omissions which might cause damage to persons, but only those involving the breach of a private duty owed to an individual. 259 Ind. at 62, 284 N.E.2d at 737. To illustrate the retention of immunity in favor of governments and their employees for breach of a public duty, the Campbell court cited Simpson Food Fair v. City of Evansville (1971), 149 Ind.App. 387, 391, 272 N.E.2d 871, 873. In Simpson, the city and its police were held immune from a claim by a retail grocery corporation that city police negligently failed to halt a wave of criminal activities that had forced the store out of business, because the duty to provide police protection under those circumstances was a duty owed to the public at large, not to individual members of the public. 149 Ind.App. at 393-95, 272 N.E.2d at 875-86. On the other hand, governmental entities and employees were not immune for the breach of a duty owed to an individual. Id.; see also Board of Comm'rs. of...

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  • Turner v. Sheriff of Marion County, No. IP97-2013-C-F/D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • March 1, 2000
    ...of the specific immunities asserted by the Sheriff and neither side addressed the public-private duty test that Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284 (Ind.1993), and Kemezy v. Peters, 622 N.E.2d 1296 (Ind.1993), prescribed for applying § 3(7)'s "enforcement of a law" immunity. In this postu......
  • Severson v. Board of Trustees of Purdue University, No. 79A05-0112-CV-559.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 7, 2002
    ...to sanction a violation thereof." Mullin v. Mun. City of South Bend, 639 N.E.2d 278, 283 (Ind. 1994) (citing Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284, 1287 n. 3 In O'Bannon v. City of Anderson, we found ITCA law-enforcement immunity applicable where police officers pursued a suspect into the p......
  • Stillwater of Crown Point Homeowner's Ass'n, Inc. v. Kovich, Cause No. 2:09–CV–157–PRC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • October 11, 2011
    ...v. Shumaker, 812 N.E.2d 1143, 1147 (Ind.Ct.App.2004), trans. denied (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284, 1287 n. 3 (Ind.1993)), impliedly overruled on other grounds by Benton v. City of Oakland City, 721 N.E.2d 224, 230 (Ind.1999) (rejecting pri......
  • Benton v. City of Oakland City, No. 26S04-9803-CV-156.
    • United States
    • December 29, 1999
    ...County, 528 N.E.2d 40, 46 (Ind.1988); Seymour Nat'l Bank v. State, 422 N.E.2d 1223, 1226 (Ind.1981), overruled by Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284, 1290 (Ind.1993);15 Barnes v. Antich, 700 N.E.2d 262, 266 n.6 (Ind.Ct.App.1998), transfer denied. In general, it is only after a determinat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
50 cases
  • Turner v. Sheriff of Marion County, No. IP97-2013-C-F/D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • March 1, 2000
    ...of the specific immunities asserted by the Sheriff and neither side addressed the public-private duty test that Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284 (Ind.1993), and Kemezy v. Peters, 622 N.E.2d 1296 (Ind.1993), prescribed for applying § 3(7)'s "enforcement of a law" immunity. In this postu......
  • Severson v. Board of Trustees of Purdue University, No. 79A05-0112-CV-559.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 7, 2002
    ...to sanction a violation thereof." Mullin v. Mun. City of South Bend, 639 N.E.2d 278, 283 (Ind. 1994) (citing Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284, 1287 n. 3 In O'Bannon v. City of Anderson, we found ITCA law-enforcement immunity applicable where police officers pursued a suspect into the p......
  • Stillwater of Crown Point Homeowner's Ass'n, Inc. v. Kovich, Cause No. 2:09–CV–157–PRC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • October 11, 2011
    ...v. Shumaker, 812 N.E.2d 1143, 1147 (Ind.Ct.App.2004), trans. denied (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284, 1287 n. 3 (Ind.1993)), impliedly overruled on other grounds by Benton v. City of Oakland City, 721 N.E.2d 224, 230 (Ind.1999) (rejecting pri......
  • Benton v. City of Oakland City, No. 26S04-9803-CV-156.
    • United States
    • December 29, 1999
    ...County, 528 N.E.2d 40, 46 (Ind.1988); Seymour Nat'l Bank v. State, 422 N.E.2d 1223, 1226 (Ind.1981), overruled by Quakenbush v. Lackey, 622 N.E.2d 1284, 1290 (Ind.1993);15 Barnes v. Antich, 700 N.E.2d 262, 266 n.6 (Ind.Ct.App.1998), transfer denied. In general, it is only after a determinat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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