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Anderson v. State

692 N.W.2d 360 (2005)

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Anderson v. State

Iowa Supreme Court

692 N.W.2d 360 (2005)

Facts

Kecia Anderson (plaintiff) was a student at the University of Northern Iowa, a public university of the State of Iowa (Iowa) (defendant). The campus library typically closed at midnight. Anderson was studying in the library one evening during a winter storm. A librarian told an assistant that the sidewalks were getting icy and she should contact Marilyn Mercado (defendant), the interim library dean, to find out whether to close the library early. Mercado decided to keep the library open until the usual closing time. Anderson left the library just before it closed, slipped, and fell on the ice. Anderson sued Mercado and Iowa for her injuries, alleging that Mercado and Iowa were negligent in failing to close the library early. At trial, it was established that Mercado tried to ascertain how dangerous the conditions were and how many employees and students were in the library. Mercado factored into her decision the number of people in the library; the library’s written policy to continue normal hours of operation during severe weather and allow faculty, staff, and students to make their own decisions about travel safety; and the other librarian’s tendency to exaggerate. The trial court granted Mercado and Iowa’s motion for a directed verdict, ruling that the decision not to close the library was protected by discretionary-function immunity. Anderson appealed. The court of appeals held that the decision to keep the library open was not policy driven and therefore was not subject to discretionary-function immunity. The state supreme court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wiggins, J.)

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