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Bassett v. Lamantia
Montana Supreme Court
417 P.3d 299 (2018)
Officer Paul Lamantia (defendant) was chasing a suspect when the suspect ran into the backyard of Robert Bassett (plaintiff). Bassett stepped into his backyard to investigate. Lamantia, believing Bassett to be the suspect, tackled Bassett, tearing Bassett’s rotator cuff. Bassett filed a negligence lawsuit in state court against Lamantia, alleging that Lamantia had failed to exercise reasonable care in tackling Bassett. Lamantia removed the case to federal court. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Lamantia, holding that the public-duty doctrine protected Lamantia from liability. The district court reasoned that Lamantia did not have a special relationship with Bassett and, therefore, did not owe Bassett a duty of care separate from the duty Lamantia owed the general public. Bassett appealed, arguing that Lamantia owed him an individual duty of care because he was injured by Bassett’s actions. The court of appeals certified the question to the Montana Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McKinnon, J.)
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