Friday, May 17, 2019

Building Code Officials Granted Immunity Under Tort Claims Act


Whether building code officials contracted to enforce the Construction Code Act by a local governmental entity are entitled to immunity under the Tort Claims Act was addressed in the case of Hartzell v. SM Ross, Inc., et.al., No. GD 17-CV-011430 (C.P. Allegh. Co. March 25, 2019 Connelly, J.).  In this case, the court ruled in favor of the Defendants, finding that these particular Defendants were indeed afforded immunity in negligence causes of action.  

According to the Opinion, this case arose following a landslide which damaged the Plaintiff’s newly purchased home.   The Plaintiffs failed a Complaint against Building Inspection Underwriters, Inc. and other Defendants, including a local governmental agency. 

The court generally noted that the local governmental agency was entitled to the immunity provided under 42 Pa. C.S.A. §8541 of the Tort Claims Act. 

The court additionally noted that the Pennsylvania Code requires that local governmental entities appoint a building code official to enforce the Construction Code Act.  

In part, the Plaintiffs sued the Borough Code Officials for failing to enforce the code provisions relative to the premises at issue.   In response, those particular Defendants asserted that they were entitled to protections afforded by the Tort Claims Act.   In the end, the court ruled that the Tort Claims Act does indeed afford immunity to Building Code Officials contracted to enforce the Construction Code Act by a local governmental agency.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney William J. Bryers of the Philadelphia law firm of Pillinger, Miller, Tarallo, for bringing this case to my attention.  

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