Can you sue under a state tort claims act?
The Indiana Tort Claims Act permits you to sue the state or local government for the torts of government workers acting within the scope of their employment and suggests that lawsuits may be brought directly against individual workers. But it indemnifies the individual government worker from personal liability in most circumstances.
Are there exceptions to the state tort claims act?
If the worker performed a discretionary act, for example, you may not sue the government entity. You may, however, sue the government worker directly in some situations. For instance, employee conduct that is criminal or clearly outside the scope of employment is not indemnified.
Indiana Tort Claims Act
Under Indiana law, liability against government entities is governed by the Indiana Tort Claims Act (“ITCA”), which provides liability against state and local governments for damages from “a claim or suit in tort.” 1 It does not create causes of action but instead allows plaintiffs to bring otherwise existing tort claims. 2 The ITCA immunizes the government and its officers acting “within the scope of” their employment in many areas. 3 Although those immunities are many, courts have construed them narrowly. 4
Think Common-Law Torts, Not Constitutional Rights
Indiana does not generally recognize implied causes of action for violations of its state constitution. 5 The apparent sole exception is the Indiana Takings Clause. 6 Because of this, suits against government officials in state court are best brought under traditional theories of tort liability via the ITCA.
The ITCA permits “common law claims for violations of state constitutional rights.” 7 But it also limits the remedies available for those claims. For example, the ITCA generally immunizes a government entity or officer for adopting or enforcing a law. 8 The only time this immunity does not apply is when enforcement amounts to false arrest or false imprisonment. 9 Essentially, because the Indiana constitution generally “does not mandate any specific remedy for violations,” courts have interpreted the ITCA as limiting common-law tort remedies for constitutional violations. 10