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AGENCIES AREN’T LIABLE FOR 911 CALLS Government agencies aren’t liable for botched 911 calls unless there was gross negligence or bad faith by the dispatcher, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The unanimous opinion by Justice Ming Chin held that the intent of the California Tort Claims Act is “to confine potential government liability, not expand it.” The decision disapproves of Ma v. City and County of San Francisco, 95 Cal.App.4th 488, a 2002 First District Court of Appeal ruling that said public agencies could be held liable for the acts of 911 dispatchers. Thursday’s case was filed against the Regional Fire Protection Authority, the Barstow Fire Protection District and the city of Victorville by Herbert and Lori Eastburn. They sought punitive damages, claiming that their 3-year-old daughter, Felicia Kay, suffered permanent injuries from an electrical shock because of a delayed reaction by a 911 dispatcher. The Supreme Court ruled that public entities are not subject to direct liability and can face vicarious liability only if gross negligence or bad faith was involved. “The case law has defined gross negligence as ‘the want of even scant care or an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct,’” Chin wrote. “Nothing in plaintiffs’ pleadings or appellate briefs points to such extreme conduct.” The case is Eastburn v. Regional Fire Protection Authority, 03 C.D.O.S. 10923. — Mike McKee

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