RICHARDSON V. LOUISVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY METRO GOVERNMENT
GOVERNMENT: Claims Against Local Govt’s Act requires local governments to defend former employees when proper notice has been given
OPINION BY SCOTT; SCHRODER NOT SITTING
FROM JEFFERSON COUNTY
DATE RENDERED: 6/19/2008
This case concerns whether the Claims Against Local Govt’s Act (“CALGA”) requires a local government to provide for the defense of former employees. Resolution of this issue turns on the interpretation of KRS 65.2005(1) which provides in pertinent part:
A local government shall provide for the defense of any employee by an attorney chosen by the local government in any action in tort arising out of an act or omission occurring within the scope of his employment of which it has been given notice pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. The local government shall pay any judgment based thereon or any compromise or settlement of the action except as provided in subsection (3) of this section and except that a local government’s responsibility under this section to indemnify an employee shall be subject to the limitations contained in KRS 65.2002.
The Court held that the statute does require local governments to defend former employees when proper notice has been given. In so holding, the Court explained:
The key to this case is the timing of the acts or omissions which form the basis for the civil claims, not the filing dates of the lawsuits. Thus, the analysis should focus on whether Richardson was a police officer at the time of the alleged tortious acts. This interpretation is consistent with the plain meaning of KRS 65.2005(l), which mandates that “[a] local government shall provide for the defense of any employee . . . in any action in tort arising out of an act or omission occurring within the scope of his employment.” (Emphasis added). The statutory language clearly evidences the General Assembly’s intent to provide a defense to employees – both current and former – in civil litigation, so long as the claims arise from public duties.
By Hays Lawson