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Stoller Vs. Lowell Case Brief

By:   •  November 16, 2018  •  Article Review  •  404 Words (2 Pages)  •  25 Views

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Connor Lavery

Group 3

Case Brief: Stoller v. Lowell

10/31/2018

Stoller v. Lowell


Facts: On April 23, 1978, five brick buildings in Lowell and their contents were destroyed by fire. The fire started on the sixth floor of one of the buildings. Three of the buildings, including the one in which the fire started, had sprinkler systems. The Appellee’s properties were all destroyed in the fire.  There was a sprinkler system, that had been tested a few days before, available to use in combating the fire, but firefighters, diverting from normal practice, chose not to use it. They unsuccessfully fought the fire with their hoses, and the buildings were ultimately destroyed. Lowell appealed the verdict and was denied as the conduct of the fire fighters did not support the qualifications for immunity of liability in the discretionary function exception of Section 10 (b) of the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. The Appellant (Lowell) appealed the decision. [Discretionary immunity protects government officials from tort liability when, in their official capacity, they make decisions founded on planning or policy considerations.]


Issue: Was the means employed by the firefighters the subject of discretionary choice therefore granting them immunity from liability?

Decision: A jury awarded Appellee damages in the amount of $785,000.00, but the trial judge granted a judgment in spite of the verdict for the Appellant pursuant to the state discretionary immunity statute. The conduct that caused the fire to destroy all the owner’s buildings was not founded on planning or policy considerations (allowing government officials immunity of liability in the discretionary function exception of Section 10 (b) of the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act), and was negligent. The firefighters therefore had no discretionary immunity. The court reversed the trial court’s entry of a judgment in spite of the jury.  

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