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Muskopf v. Corning Hospital District

The Narrowing Of Immunity

An additional issue was raised by the fact that much of that erosion had occurred legislatively. The dissenting judges in Muskopf v. Corning Hospital District held that waiving governmental immunity was the prerogative of the legislature, not the courts, since a series of statutes had removed immunity in specific areas. Traynor's opinion asserted that "a series of sporadic statutes, each operating in a separate area of governmental immunity" did not prevent the court from accepting or rejecting immunity in other areas.

Overall, the decision reached was representative of the ongoing move away from the idea of sovereign immunity. Although citizens always had the ability to sue particular individuals for the redress of injuries, public opinion throughout the twentieth century increasingly favored the idea that the government should be held accountable if they inflict wrongs. The narrowing of immunities available to state and local government agencies was partly the result of the Civil Rights movement, which saw more and more individuals taking action against official harrassment and intimidation, and more and more demands for accountability on the part of government.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Muskopf v. Corning Hospital District - Torts And Liability, Sovereign Immunity, The Narrowing Of Immunity, Tort Liability