News & Articles

Government Tort Liability Across State Lines

November 15, 2016

Consumer-owned utilities that are also government bodies, such as PUDs and municipal utilities, enjoy special statutory protections and limitations against legal claims and liabilities arising out of their otherwise wrongful acts.  For example, a plaintiff seeking compensation for an accident or for property damage caused by a PUD or municipal utility would have to jump through more procedural hoops, and would possibly recover less damages, than a plaintiff pursuing the same claims against an investor-owned utility.  These statutory tort claim limitations arise out of the age-old legal doctrine of "sovereign immunity."  Broadly speaking, sovereign immunity means that a governmental body (ie, the "sovereign") is immune from lawsuits except when it consents to them.

For the protection of its citizens, every state has enacted a statutory framework partially waiving sovereign immunity.  The Oregon Torts Claims Act (OTCA), for example, allows persons to sue public bodies..... read more


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