John M. Kirby
Recent Case -- Official Immunity -- Fraley v. Griffin
A 17-year-old student returned home after football practice. He called 911 and reported various symptoms. An EMS worker employed by the county went to the minor's house. The EMS worker concluded that the minor was simply dehydrated.
The EMS worker gave instructions to the minor and departed. The minor's parents later arrived at the house and found their son non-responsive; he later died. The parents sued (among others) the EMS worker.
The issue on appeal was whether the EMS worker was entitled to immunity from suit for negligence. The Court of Appeals concluded that he was not entitled to immunity. This conclusion was reached primarily because a particular statute did not create the position of EMT (which generally would have supported an argument that the EMT worker was an "official"), and because the position did not entail the requisite degree of discretion. Fraley v. Griffin (December 20, 2011).
As noted with other recent cases, there are several cases addressing the immunity afforded to governmental entities (e.g. the State, counties, and towns), and afforded to individuals (e.g. police officers). EMT workers who are not paid are entitled to a special immunity, as noted in a recent case.