quick facts

The Mississippi Tort Claims Act

The Mississippi Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”) is the exclusive route to sue a Mississippi government entity and its employees for actions committed within the scope of employment. 1 The MTCA waives “the immunity of the state and its political subdivisions from claims for money damages arising out of the torts of such governmental entities and the torts of their employees while acting within the course and scope of their employment,” before providing a list of exceptions to this waiver. 2 Like the Federal Tort Claims Act, the MTCA does not allow plaintiffs to sue government employees acting within the scope of their employment. 3 Instead, plaintiffs must sue the government entity. 4

Broad Immunities and No Constitutional Rights

Mississippi law presents challenges for plaintiffs harmed by the government and government officials. To start, there are no implied causes of action under the Mississippi Constitution. 5 Next, the MTCA is riddled with broad immunities and exceptions to liability. 6 Like most state tort claims acts, the MTCA immunizes a government entity and its employees acting within the scope of employment from claims involving the exercise, or decision not to exercise, a “discretionary function.” 7 The MTCA also provides broad immunity to police officers and firefighters. With this immunity, a government entity and government employee acting within the scope of employment are not liable for acts or omissions committed while performing police or fire-protection duties unless the employee acted with “reckless disregard of the safety and well-being of any person not engaged in criminal activity at the time of injury.” 8

Fortunately, plaintiffs have an avenue for relief when a government employee’s conduct constituted “fraud, malice, libel, slander, defamation or any criminal offense other than traffic violations.” 9 In these cases, the MTCA treats the employee’s actions as outside the “scope of his employment,” 10 and the MTCA does not apply, and the plaintiff can sue the government employee in his or her individual capacity. 11 The downside for plaintiffs with these types of intentional tort claims is that the government employer cannot be held vicariously liable because the actions were outside the scope of employment. 12