Can you sue under a state tort claims act?
The Missouri Tort Claims Act waives sovereign and other common-law immunities when an injury comes from one of two situations: (1) a public employee was negligent in the operation of a motor vehicle within the course of his or her employment and (2) a dangerous condition on public property. Claims against the State must be brought to the Commissioner of Administration within two years after the claims accrue for approval.
Missouri plaintiffs have little recourse against government entities but have more favorable rules when it comes to personal-capacity lawsuits against government employees. With only a few exceptions, Missouri maintains sovereign immunity for government entities. The exceptions include liability for negligent acts or omissions by public employees operating motor vehicles within the scope of their employment, and certain dangerous conditions on public property. 1 These statutory waivers of immunity are absolute; they apply regardless of whether the public entity was functioning in a governmental or proprietary capacity or whether the public entity is covered by insurance. 2 Government liability is subject to damages caps. 3 Claims against the State must be brought to the Commissioner of Administration within two years after the claims accrue for approval. 4
Plaintiffs with intentional-tort claims will generally have more luck in suing officials in their personal capacities than in suing government entities. Missouri public officials can be held personally liable for their torts, but they enjoy qualified immunity for “injuries arising from their discretionary acts or omissions.” 5 This immunity is “a qualified immunity and does not apply to those discretionary acts done in bad faith or with malice.” 6 Courts have also held that the official-immunity defense does not apply to intentional torts. 7 In cases in which a government official enjoys official immunity, the government employer will not be vicariously immunized where sovereign immunity has been waived. 8