George Swenson, Appellant, v. Geouge P. Barrick and Allied American Mutual Fire Insurancecompany, Appellees, 302 F.2d 927 (D.C. Cir. 1962)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit - 302 F.2d 927 (D.C. Cir. 1962)

Argued March 23, 1962. Decided April 27, 1962

Appeal from the Municipal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; Andrew M. Hood, Judge.

Mr. Richard W. Barton, Asst. Corp. Counsel for District of Columbia, with whom Messrs. Chester H. Gray, Corp. Counsel, Milton D. Korman, Principal Asst. Corp. Counsel, and Hubert B. Pair, Asst. Corp. Counsel, were on the brief, for appellant.

Mr. Francis X. Quinn, Washington, D.C., for appellees.

Before WILBUR K. MILLER, Chief Judge, and BAZELON and BURGER, Circuit judges.


Barrick, the owner of a parked carstruck by an ambulance owned by the District of Columbia, sued Swenson, the driver of the ambulance, in the Municipal Court to recover for the damage done. The District of Columbia Employee Non-Liability Act,1  which was adopted some 18 months after the accident but before trial, exempts employees from personal liability for negligent operation of a District-owned vehicle and, waiving governmental immunity, makes the District of Columbia liable-- but, in the case of an emergency vehicle, only for gross negligence. The Act also provides that any judicial proceeding pending at its effective date shall be dismissed as to the employee and shall continue with the District as the sole defendnat.

On Swenson's motion, he was dismissed and the District of Columbia was substituted as defendant. At the trial a verdict for the District was directed because Barrick had not shown gross negligence. On appeal, the Municipal Court of Appeals held the Act unconstitutional as thus retroactively applied, and reversed. Although we allowed an appeal, we affirm the judgment of the Municipal Court of Appeals on the basis of Judge Hood's opinion.2 



Section 1-921 D.C.Code (1961); Act of July 14, 1960, 74 Stat. 519


Barrick v. District of Columbia, D.C.Mun.App., 173 A.2d 372 (1961)