Florida Statutes Section 768.28 partially waives a governmental entity’s sovereign immunity protections. However, the waiver only applies in cases stemming from a governmental entity’s operational functions and not discretionary planning-level functions. Recently, an appeals court issued a decision addressing a negligence claim involving the government’s discretionary actions.
A plaintiff filed an amended complaint against a Florida town about injuries their minor child suffered while riding their bicycle. The child was riding a bike on a path along a street when they approached a dumpster blocking the path. The child left the bike path and entered the street to avoid the obstruction. A driver struck the child while he was traveling down the street. In response to the plaintiff’s claim, the county moved to dismiss the case based on sovereign immunity.
On appeal, the court reasoned that the law entitles the defendant to sovereign immunity because the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the county was negligent in its discretionary planning-level functions. Florida law provides that sovereign immunity protects governmental entities for their discretionary functions. Discretionary functions include quasi-legislative decisions, policy-making, and judgmental governmental functions. On the other hand, sovereign immunity does not apply to operational functions such as decisions that implement policy. As such, plaintiffs wishing to overcome sovereign immunity must allege negligent acts “at an operational level.”