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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Instructor and Municipality Had Immunity for Taser Injury

Chavez participated in a taser training conducted by a part-time police officer. During the training, the instructor inadvertently tased both Chavez and the spotter who was meant to catch Chavez's fall. As a result, Chavez fell and was injured. He filed suit against the instructor and the municipality, claiming he was injured because of the instructor's failure to conduct the course in a reasonably safe manner and that the instructor should have placed mats to catch his fall. 

The defendants argued they were entitled to discretionary immunity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Act). The Act protects municipalities from liability for an injury resulting from an act or omission of its employee where the employee is not liable. The Act also protects a public employee from liability for an injury resulting from an act or omission of the employee acting in the exercise of his or her discretion. 

The trial court held that the instructor was not entitled to protection under the discretionary immunity act and awarded Chavez damages.  

On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed, holding that the instructor was protected by immunity. The Court found that the taser class was the sole responsibility of the instructor and he was the only person capable of making determinations for the method of instruction for the training. The Court also found that the instructor’s decision not to place mats, the choice and placement of the alligator clips, and how many exposures to give and policy determinations were made (i.e., conducting the course at a fire department to ensure medical personnel were nearby), all weighed in favor of a determination that the instructor acted in the exercise of his discretion. As a result, the Appellate Court held that both the instructor and municipality had immunity under the Act. Chavez v. Village of Kirkland.

Post Authored by Alexis Carter & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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