Abalos v. Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office – Case Brief Summary (New Mexico)

In Abalos v. Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office, 105 N.M. 554, 734 P.2d 794 (Ct. App. 1987), the Court was specifically asked to address "(1) whether a governmental entity can be a named party defendant; and (2) if the entity can be sued, which entity should be named." 105 N.M. at 558, 734 P.2d at 798.

The Court observed that "New Mexico's law is confusing and inconsistent regarding which entity can be sued and when," and we concluded that "one can sue the public employee and the agency or entity for whom the public employee works." Id. at 559, 734 P.2d at 799.

In explaining when a particular governmental entity can be named as a defendant in a TCA claim, the Court wrote, "To name a particular entity in an action under the Tort Claims Act requires two things: (1) a negligent public employee who meets one of the waiver exceptions under Sections 41-4-5 to -12; and (2) an entity that has immediate supervisory responsibilities over the employee." Abalos, 105 N.M. at 559, 734 P.2d at 799.

However, Abalos never stated that a specific employee must be named.

Rather, the discussion focused on which agency should be named in a TCA suit, and it was in the context of determining which employer was responsible for the negligent conduct that we discussed the employee.

The Court simply pointed out that because an entity can only act through its employees, "it follows that one can sue the public employee and the agency or entity for whom the public employee works." Id.

Thus, Abalos does not require both the employee and the entity to be named; it merely clarifies that both can be sued. Id.