Vasquez v. State

In Vasquez v. State, 220 Ariz. 304, 311,21, 206 P.3d 753, 760 (App. 2008), a person died when his vehicle rolled during a high speed pursuit with DPS and Cochise County Sherriff's Officers. 220 Ariz. at 306,3, 206 P.3d at 755. Law enforcement did not identify the decedent until two months after he was buried as an indigent. Id. The Vasquez majority found the State and Cochise County owed no duty to the deceased's mother to investigate the accident more thoroughly or to identify her son. Id. at 315,37, 206 P.3d at 764. The Vasquez majority also noted that a "special relationship between an investigating law enforcement agency and a decedent's family member does not arise merely by the agency undertaking to investigate" nor does the duty to identify the deceased arise because law enforcement does investigate. Id. at 313,30, 206 P.3d at 762. The majority found Morton held that law enforcement agencies do not owe a duty to family or friends to identify a decedent. Id. The dissent in Vasquez specifically recognized that duties of care may arise from conduct a person has undertaken, and that although the police owed no duty to protect citizens from "all harms," a duty of reasonable care arose to protect the surviving family members of a crime victim once the police "opted to provide police protection." Id. at 318,49, 206 P.3d at 767. Moreover, the Vasquez majority did not foreclose the existence of a duty of reasonable care arising, as in the immediate case, where law enforcement undertook to perform a specific act; to wit: the delivery of a NOK notification. Id.