Can I Sue the City of Jacksonville or the Sheriff's Office?

Can I Sue the City of Jacksonville or the Sheriff's Office?

Yes, but it depends. An often spoken phrase by lawyers, caused probably by the fact that we spend so much of our time arguing over exactly what a law or rule may mean. Below I will try to explain the basics of a tort claim against the City of Jacksonville and/or the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. If you have any further questions please feel free to call me. 

Ok, so why does it "depend"? 

Because our government agencies are provided sovereign immunity.

What is sovereign immunity and what is its purpose?

Sovereign immunity prohibits/restricts tort suits against the government; the government cannot be sued without its consent. 

Reasons for sovereign immunity:

  • Separation of powers
    • Government affairs must be protected from interference by courts and plaintiffs. 
    • Separation of powers concerns prohibits the judicial branch from interfering with the discretionary functions of the legislative or executive branch absent a violation or constitutional or statutory right.
  • Protects the discretion of governmental authorities in decision-making. 
    • Government administration would be disrupted if the state could be sued at the instance of every citizen. 
    • Governmental decision-making requires flexibility and discretion. 
  • Regulates the fiscal impact of tort damage awards on the public treasury.

Sounds like that's a wrap, can't sue the City, your out of luck. But of course "it depends". Fortunately, the Florida Constitution specifically provides the legislature the power to pass laws providing for a waiver of sovereign immunity. 

Article X, Section 13 of the Florida Constitution states; "Provision may be made by general law for bringing suit against the state as to all liabilities now existing or hereafter originating."

The Florida legislature passed Section 768.28, F.S., allowing for a limited waiver of sovereign immunity. The statutes begins by stating:

In accordance with s. 13, Art. X of the State Constitution, the state, for itself and for its agencies or subdivisions, hereby waives sovereign immunity for liability for torts, but only to the extent specified in this act. Actions at law against the state or any of its agencies or subdivisions to recover damages in tort for money damages against the state or its agencies or subdivisions for injury or loss of property, personal injury, or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the agency or subdivision while acting within the scope of the employee’s office or employment under circumstances in which the state or such agency or subdivision, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant, in accordance with the general laws of this state, may be prosecuted subject to the limitations specified in this act. 

So what can the City of Jacksonville be sued for?

  • To recover damages in tort for money damages against the state or its agencies or subdivisions.
  • For injury or loss of property, personal injury, or death.
  • Caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the agency or subdivision.
  • While acting within the scope of the employee’s office or employment.

Claims can be for a number of reasons, including wrongful arrest, personal injury or wrongful death. 

Now again, these are just the basics, there are always questions as to who or what qualifies as an agency or subdivision of the state, what is "within the scope of the employee’s office or employment", is the particular individual (employee) liable and numerous other issues. This is why it is recommended to speak to an attorney if you believe you have a case against the City of Jacksonville or the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

Please follow up and read my post "4 Need to Know Rules Before You Sue The City of Jacksonville."

If You Have Questions About a Claim Against a City or the State of Florida

Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.