The Catholic University of America

Summary of District of Columbia Laws

Agency

Ministerial Function Distinction

Case Law:

Immunity may be available to government officials if they are acting within the scope of their employment. "Absolute immunity available when (1) the official acted within the 'outer perimeter' of his official duties, and (2) the particular government function at issue was 'discretionary' as opposed to 'ministerial'". Moss v. Stockard, 580 A.2d 1011, 1020 (D.C.1990); see also District of Columbia v. Jones 2007 WL 922249, *2 (D.C. 2007).

To determine if the official acted within the outer perimeter of his official duties, "it is sufficient if [acts] are done by an officer in relation to matters committed by law to his control or supervision ...; or that they have more or less connection with the general matters committed by law to his control or supervision ...; or that they are governed by a lawful requirement of the department under whose authority the officer is acting." Moss, 580 A.2d at 1020 (citing Cooper v. O'Connor, 99 F.2d 135, 139 (1938)).

To determine if the government function at issue was discretionary or ministerial, "the court, as a matter of law, must balance the contending interests and determine whether society's concern to shield the particular government function at issue from the disruptive effects of civil litigation requires subordinating the vindication of private injuries otherwise compensable at law." Id. at 1020-21. Several policy factors are important to this analysis; "(1) the nature of the injury, (2) the availability of alternate remedies, (3) the ability of the courts to judge fault without unduly invading the executive's function, and (4) the importance of protecting particular kinds of acts." Id. (citing District of Columbia v. Thompson, 570 A.2d 277 (D.C.1990)).






Revised CPJ 5-14-07
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Page checked July 14th, 2010, FJL