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Barneck v. Utah Dep’t of Transp., 2015 UT 50 (June 12, 2015)

Jun 12, 2015

Plaintiff brought claims for negligence and wrongful death. The plaintiff argued that that the Utah Department of Transportation fix to resolve an obstructed culvert following a sudden rainstorm and flooding led to the collapse of the road and a tragic motor vehicle accident. The district court concluded the Department was entitled to immunity under Utah’s Governmental Immunity Act. Reversing, the Utah Supreme Court devoted significant attention to interpreting statutory language relating to defective culverts and governmental management of flood waters. The Court further held that governmental entities may invoke a statutory exception to the waiver of immunity only if the condition articulated in the statutory exception is the proximate cause of a plaintiff’s injuries.In doing so, the Court repudiated prior decisions where the Court had applied a “but for” causation analysis.