Day v. State

In Day v. State, 1999 UT 46, 980 P.2d 1171, the Court squarely faced the question of special relationship formation: A special relationship can be established: (1) by a statute intended to protect a specific class of persons of which the plaintiff is a member from a particular type of harm; (2) when a government agent undertakes specific action to protect a person or property; (3) by governmental actions that reasonably induce detrimental reliance by a member of the public; (4) under certain circumstances, when the agency has actual custody of the plaintiff or of a third person who causes harm to the plaintiff. Id. The Court relied on the open courts provision to strike down a statute granting immunity for negligent operation of an emergency vehicle in circumstances where immunity had not previously existed. The Court declared the statute unconstitutional because the legislature was not acting to obviate a "clear social evil" in this state. Id. The sponsor of the legislation had explained that the statute was necessary because of a rash of frivolous lawsuits, "especially in California." Id. The Court noted that on its face, the sponsor's statement did not identify any social, economic, or any other evil in Utah. No evidence was presented that Utah had experienced a rash of similar lawsuits, or was likely to. Id.