Stevenson v. City of DoravilleAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in this case to decide whether the Court of Appeals erred in its determination that the public duty doctrine insulated the City of Doraville from liability arising from the response of a Doraville Police Department ("DPD") officer to a vehicle emergency on an interstate highway which culminated in a multi-vehicle accident injuring Kenyatta Stevenson. Stevenson sued the City and a DPD Officer, asserting that the officer was negligent in failing to redirect traffic away from Stevenson's disabled car and in causing traffic to move in Stevenson's direction by engaging his vehicle's blue emergency lights while stopped near the outer lane of the highway behind and to the right of Stevenson. The trial court granted summary judgment to both defendants, finding official immunity shielded the officer from liability and that the public duty doctrine precluded Stevenson's claims against the City. Stevenson appealed, arguing that the public duty doctrine did not apply to his case because he alleged affirmative acts of negligence and that, even if the doctrine did apply, he fell within the special relationship exception identified in "City of Rome v. Jordan," (426 SE2d 861) (1993)). The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding Stevenson's arguments lacked merit. Although it appeared that the appellate court based its rejection of Stevenson's first argument on a finding that "there [was] nothing in the record . . . showing any active negligence on the part of the officer," the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court, but wrote to clarify the public duty doctrine. The doctrine "does not apply to limit liability where a claim of active negligence (misfeasance), rather than a mere failure to act (nonfeasance) is alleged."