Ryan v. State, No. 16122-PR

CourtSupreme Court of Arizona
Writing for the CourtHAYS; HOLOHAN
Citation656 P.2d 597,134 Ariz. 308,38 A.L.R.4th 1188
Docket NumberNo. 16122-PR
Decision Date17 December 1982
Parties, 38 A.L.R.4th 1188 David J. RYAN and Helen Ryan, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. STATE of Arizona, a body politic; John Moran, individually and as director of the Arizona Department of Corrections; John Kohl, individually and as director of the Arizona Youth Center, Defendants-Appellees.

Page 597

656 P.2d 597
134 Ariz. 308, 38 A.L.R.4th 1188
David J. RYAN and Helen Ryan, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
STATE of Arizona, a body politic; John Moran, individually and as director of the Arizona Department of Corrections; John Kohl, individually and as director of the Arizona Youth Center, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 16122-PR.
Supreme Court of Arizona, In Banc.
Dec. 17, 1982.

Langerman, Begam, Lewis and Marks by Noel Fidel and Frank Lewis, Phoenix, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Robert K. Corbin, Atty. Gen., James A. Teilborg, Nicholas T. Adrahtas, David S. Shughart, II, and William R. Jones, Jr., Sp. Asst. Attys. Gen., Phoenix, for defendants-appellees.

HAYS, Justice.

The Supreme Court granted a petition for review of an opinion affirming the trial court which had granted a summary judgment in favor of the State of Arizona and individual defendants. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-120.24. The opinion of the Court of Appeals, 1 CA-CIV 5242, is vacated, 134 Ariz.App. 327, 656 P.2d 616.

The facts upon which this litigation is based concern a 17-year-old inmate, John Myers, who escaped from custody at the Arizona Youth Center. After his escape, Meyers engaged in the robbery of a convenience market and shot David J. Ryan at point-blank range with a sawed-off shotgun. See State v. Myers, 117 Ariz. 79, 570 P.2d 1252 (1977), for details. Ryan, the victim, sustained serious and permanent injuries.

In the complaint for damages, Ryan alleges that the state and the individual defendants were both negligent and grossly negligent in their supervision of Myers who had a long history of criminal behavior and three previous escapes from the Department of Corrections.

The state and the individual defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis that the allegations of the complaint do not give rise to a duty to the plaintiff individually; the duty which arises is to the public as a whole. The trial court granted the [134 Ariz. 309]

Page 598

motion and the Court of Appeals, in a two-to-one decision, affirmed.

The Supreme Court granted the appellants' petition for review, and departing from precedent, ordered additional memoranda and oral argument on the following questions:

Should the Supreme Court abandon the doctrine adopted in Massengill v. Yuma County, 104 Ariz. 518, 456 P.2d 376 (1969)?

If so, what limitations if any should be imposed on governmental liability for the acts of its agents?

We are well aware that some of the inconsistencies in our previous opinions in this area of law have made the task of the lower courts more difficult. A full resolution of the many questions in a broad sweeping opinion is also fraught with danger. However, a return to Stone v. Arizona Highway Comm'n, 93 Ariz. 384, 381 P.2d 107 (1963), would make a good starting point. The Court in that opinion said:

"[T]he substantive defense of governmental immunity is now abolished not only for the instant case, but for all other pending cases, those not yet filed which are not barred by the statute of limitations and all future causes of action. All previous decisions to the contrary are overruled.

"There is perhaps no doctrine more firmly established than the principle that liability follows tortious wrongdoing; that where negligence is the proximate cause of injury, the rule is liability and immunity is the exception...."

93 Ariz. at 392, 381 P.2d 107.

It can be said that in subsequent cases we have not always been true to the spirit of the Stone decision that "the rule is liability and immunity is the exception." (Emphasis added).

Here, the appellee-respondents urge that governmental immunity should continue in those instances where the services provided are uniquely governmental in nature. This is the old proprietary-governmental distinction in a bright new word-package. It is not within the spirit of Stone.

We are also told that not only will the public treasury suffer but government will come to a standstill because its agents will be afraid to act. We can't but recall the dire predictions attendant to the publication of the Stone decision. Arizona survived!

In Ruth v. Rhodes, 66 Ariz. 129, 185 P.2d 304 (1947), a state highway patrol officer was sued in tort for damages caused by his alleged negligence. The officer, when responding to a call, struck the truck in which plaintiff was riding. A jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff and the resulting judgment was affirmed. In affirming, our Supreme Court quoted from Florio v. Schmolz, 101 N.J.L. (16 Gummere) 535, 129 A. 470, 40 A.L.R. 1353:

"We think that a sound public policy requires that public officers and employees shall be held accountable for their negligent acts in the performance of their official duties to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
129 practice notes
  • Heins Implement Co. v. Missouri Highway & Transp. Com'n, No. 75313
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 17, 1993
    ...closely related to or dependent upon sovereign immunity. 21 See, e.g., Adams v. State, 555 P.2d 235, 241-42 (Alaska 1976); Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 310, 656 P.2d 597, 599 (1982); Leake v. Cain, 720 P.2d 152, 160 (Colo.1986); Commercial Carrier Corp. v. Indian River Cty., 371 So.2d 1010......
  • Allen v. Dist. of Columbia, No. 10–CV–1425.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 25, 2014
    ...this court's decision in Warren and opining that a special duty should have been recognized in that case).33 See, e.g., Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 656 P.2d 597 (1982) (en banc); Leake, 720 P.2d 152 ; Commercial Carrier Corp. v. Indian River Cnty., 371 So.2d 1010 (Fla.1979) ; Jean W. v. C......
  • Powell v. District of Columbia, No. 90-1016.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • February 14, 1992
    ...holding that "the parameters of duty owed by the state will ordinarily be coextensive with those owed by others." Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 310, 656 P.2d 597, 599 (1982). Responding to ominous governmental warnings of impending doom, the court We are also told that not only will the pub......
  • Gordon v. Bridgeport Housing Authority, No. 13232
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 5, 1988
    ...doctrine has been abrogated by a number of jurisdictions. See, e.g., Adams v. State, 555 P.2d 235, 241-42 (Alaska 1976); Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 310, 656 P.2d 597 (1982); Leake v. Cain, 720 P.2d 152, 158 (Colo.1986); Brennen v. Eugene, 285 Or. 401, 409, 591 P.2d 719 (1979); Petersen v......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
129 cases
  • Heins Implement Co. v. Missouri Highway & Transp. Com'n, No. 75313
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 17, 1993
    ...closely related to or dependent upon sovereign immunity. 21 See, e.g., Adams v. State, 555 P.2d 235, 241-42 (Alaska 1976); Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 310, 656 P.2d 597, 599 (1982); Leake v. Cain, 720 P.2d 152, 160 (Colo.1986); Commercial Carrier Corp. v. Indian River Cty., 371 So.2d 1010......
  • Allen v. Dist. of Columbia, No. 10–CV–1425.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 25, 2014
    ...this court's decision in Warren and opining that a special duty should have been recognized in that case).33 See, e.g., Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 656 P.2d 597 (1982) (en banc); Leake, 720 P.2d 152 ; Commercial Carrier Corp. v. Indian River Cnty., 371 So.2d 1010 (Fla.1979) ; Jean W. v. C......
  • Powell v. District of Columbia, No. 90-1016.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • February 14, 1992
    ...that "the parameters of duty owed by the state will ordinarily be coextensive with those owed by others." Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 310, 656 P.2d 597, 599 (1982). Responding to ominous governmental warnings of impending doom, the court We are also told that not only will the p......
  • Gordon v. Bridgeport Housing Authority, No. 13232
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 5, 1988
    ...doctrine has been abrogated by a number of jurisdictions. See, e.g., Adams v. State, 555 P.2d 235, 241-42 (Alaska 1976); Ryan v. State, 134 Ariz. 308, 310, 656 P.2d 597 (1982); Leake v. Cain, 720 P.2d 152, 158 (Colo.1986); Brennen v. Eugene, 285 Or. 401, 409, 591 P.2d 719 (1979); Petersen v......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT