Orsbon as GAL for Bosworth-Jones v. City of Charlotte, et al
|Attorney for the Case
|John Chilson W. Thompson Comerford Zachary Harris
|Amicus Brief Writers
|Amiee Nwabuike David Stradley
|NC Court of Appeals
Plaintiff sustained severe injuries while following the directions of a pedestrian crossing signal. The signal instructed Ms. Bosworth-Jones to cross the road directly into the path of a left-turning car. The circumstances of the incident were created by the signals directing the action of both the pedestrian and the motorist, putting them on a collision course. Plaintiff filed suit against the motorist, the City of Charlotte, and two of the City’s employee engineers.
The trial court denied the City’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, but granted the motion of the two engineers, finding that they were public officials rather than public employees. The court later granted the City’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed.
NCAJ filed an amicus brief, emphasizing two primary points. First of all, the engineers in question are clearly public employees under previous precedent, not public officials. Thus, public official immunity does not apply. Second, even if public official immunity did apply to these employees, it extends only to the individual capacity claims against them, not the official capacity claims. Under established precedent, public official immunity only operates to protect public officials from personal liability on individual capacity claims, and does not affect official capacity claims, for which the employers of said public officials are ultimately responsible. To accept the City’s argument would result in a dramatic expansion of public official immunity, which has never applied to official capacity claims. As a result, citizens wronged by the actions of a public official would have to prove malice or corruption to obtain any recovery against the government entities for whom those officials work. Such has never been required in North Carolina.