Cooper v. RodriguezAnnotate this Case
An inmate brutally murdered another inmate during a ride on a prison transport bus staffed by five correctional officers. At issue in this case was whether the correctional officer who was in charge of the bus was grossly negligent and, if so, whether he was entitled to common law public official immunity. The jury found that the officer at issue (“Cooper”) was grossly negligent and that his gross negligence was a proximate cause of the inmate’s death.The circuit court granted Cooper’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict by striking the jury’s finding of gross negligence and determining that Cooper was immune from liability. The court of special appeals reversed as to Cooper, concluding that Cooper was grossly negligent and consequently not immune from liability. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) gross negligence is an exception to common law public official immunity; and (2) the court of special appeals was correct in ruling that Cooper was not entitled to common law public immunity because he acted with gross negligence.