Chavez participated in a taser training conducted by a part-time police officer. During the training, the instructor inadvertently tased both Chavez and the spotter who was meant to catch Chavez’s fall. As a result, Chavez fell and was injured. He filed suit against the instructor and the municipality, claiming he was injured because of the
instructor’s failure to conduct the course in a reasonably safe manner and that the
instructor should have placed mats to catch his fall.

The defendants argued they were entitled to discretionary immunity under the Local Governmental
and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Act). The Act protects municipalities from liability for an injury resulting from an act or
omission of its employee where the employee is not liable. The Act also protects a public employee from liability for an injury resulting
from an act or omission of the employee acting in the exercise of his or her discretion.

The trial court held that the
instructor was not entitled to protection under the discretionary immunity act
and awarded Chavez damages.

On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed, holding that the instructor was protected by immunity. The Court found that the taser class was the sole responsibility of the instructor and he was the
only person capable of making determinations for the method of instruction for
the training. The Court also found that the
instructor’s decision not to place mats, the
choice and placement of the alligator clips, and how many exposures to give and
policy determinations were made (i.e., conducting the course at a fire
department to ensure medical personnel were nearby), all weighed in favor of a determination that the instructor acted in the exercise of his discretion. As a result, the Appellate Court held that both the instructor and municipality had immunity under the Act. Chavez v. Village of Kirkland.

Post Authored by Alexis Carter & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink