Grimm v. Arizona Board of Pardons and Paroles

In Grimm v. Arizona Board of Pardons and Paroles, 115 Ariz. 260, 564 P.2d 1227 (Ariz. 1977), a man who had been shot by a parolee and the parents of a man who was killed by the parolee during a robbery brought action against the Arizona Board of Pardons and Paroles. Grimm,115 Ariz. at 260, 564 P.2d at 1227. The Superior Court of Pima County granted the Board's motion for summary judgment and the plaintiffs appealed. The Arizona Supreme Court held that members of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles owed a duty to individual members of the general public of avoiding grossly negligent or reckless release of a highly dangerous prisoner, and that genuine issues of fact existed as to whether release of the prisoner was grossly negligent or reckless, precluding summary judgment for members of the Board. Id. The court stated the following in its holding: The Board of Pardons and Paroles in this instance has narrowed its duty from one owed to the general public to one owed to individuals by assuming parole supervision over, or taking charge of, a person having dangerous tendencies . . . . Here the Board members voluntarily assumed responsibility for a highly dangerous person who could be paroled only by Board action. It is black letter tort law that while inaction is not normally a basis for liability, negligent performance of a duty voluntarily undertaken may be a basis for liability. Id. 267, 1234 .