Noble v. Office of Child Support

In Noble v. Office of Child Support, 168 Vt. 349, 721 A.2d 121 (1998), plaintiff brought an action against OCS, alleging that it had negligently failed to comply with its statutory duty to assist her and her children in enforcing a child support order. The lower court denied the State's motion for summary judgment on the basis of sovereign immunity, finding a private analog in the nature of a collection agency for the governmental function involved. On appeal the Court reversed, holding that OCS enforcement actions were "broadly discretionary" and served a variety of state policies and interests wholly apart from the collection of debts. The Court found OCS's duties to be "uniquely governmental" with no private analog in our common law and, therefore, the action against OCS was barred as a matter of law by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Noble, 168 Vt. at 353, 721 A.2d at 124.