Under the common law, the “king could do no wrong” – and hence was not subject to a finding of liability in court for negligent or reckless conduct. In modern times, the concept of sovereign immunity can apply to a government, just as it did to a monarchy. Citizens still do not have the “right” to sue a city, state, or even the federal government under the principles of sovereign immunity.
However, most governmental entities have passed laws that allow themselves to be sued, at least in some circumstances. However, there are almost always limitations on such suits, including those involving a Cape Cod wrongful death claim.
Facts of the Case
In a recent unreported case, the plaintiff was a special administratrix who filed suit against the defendant city public health commission, asserting a cause of action for wrongful death and failure to supervise and/or train employees. According to allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint, the decedent was placed into an ambulance that was under the control of the defendant commission after staff members at an inn called 911 and reported that the decedent was experiencing suicidal thoughts. The defendant reportedly disregarded its usual practice of driving a suicidal patient to the hospital with a police escort; when the defendant’s employees opened the ambulance door, the decedent ran into the street, laid down, and was killed by a motor vehicle moving through traffic.