Davis v. Board of County Commissioners

987 P.2d 1172 (1999)

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Davis v. Board of County Commissioners

New Mexico Court of Appeals
987 P.2d 1172 (1999)

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Facts

Joseph Herrera worked at Dona Ana County Detention Center (the detention center) as a detention sergeant and classification officer. Herrera was the subject of multiple sexual-harassment and sexual-assault complaints from inmates. One of Herrera’s supervisors, Frank Steele, investigated the allegations and authored a report of his findings and recommendations. Steele’s report noted that Herrera’s conduct was questionable and recommended that Herrera be demoted, reassigned, and suspended without pay. Before a disciplinary hearing was held, Herrera resigned. At Herrera’s request, Steele wrote a positive recommendation letter for Herrera that omitted Herrera’s alleged sexual misconduct and Herrera’s reason for leaving and endorsed Herrera as an excellent employee. Herrera used Steele’s letter to apply for a position at Mesilla Valley Hospital (MVH), a psychiatric hospital. MVH called the detention center and spoke to Al Mochen, another of Herrera’s supervisors. Mochen allegedly stated that Herrera was a good person and hard worker, and that Mochen would rehire Herrera. MVH hired Herrera, allegedly in reliance on Steele’s and Mochen’s recommendations. Shortly after Herrera began working at MVH, he allegedly sexually assaulted a patient, Mariah C. Davis (plaintiff). Davis sued the Board of County Commissioners of Dona Ana County (the county) (defendant) for negligent misrepresentation, alleging that Steele’s and Mochen’s misrepresentations resulted in Herrera being hired at MVH and her being assaulted. Davis and the county filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied Davis’s motion and granted the county’s motion, finding that Steele and Mochen did not owe a duty to Davis. Davis appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bosson, J.)

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