Washington Law Review


The public duty doctrine states that in order for a person to recover tort damages from a governmental entity, the individual must prove that the governmental entity breached a duty owed to him or her particularly, and not just a breach of a duty owed to the public. The "special relationship" exception to the doctrine provides a mechanism for proving a particularized duty. The Washington Supreme Court has now restricted this exception. By restricting the exception, the court may inappropriately bar certain injured plaintiffs from recovery. The restriction may also violate Washington statutes abrogating governmental immunity by giving government defendants treatment not afforded private defendants. This Comment analyzes the new exception in light of a traditional tort duty analysis. The Comment concludes that a traditional tort duty analysis provides a better framework for assessing governmental duty in negligence actions.

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Torts Commons