De Wald v. State

In De Wald v. State, 719 P.2d 643 (Wyo. 1986), the personal representative of the estate of a man killed when a drunk driver, fleeing from state highway patrol officers, collided with his vehicle sued the State of Wyoming and the state highway patrol officers for negligence under two different provisions of the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act (WGCA). Id. at 645-47. The state defendants asserted the public duty rule as a defense to the negligence claims. Id. at 652. The DeWald court rejected the public duty rule defense, explaining that "the public duty/special duty rule was in essence a form of sovereign immunity and viable when sovereign immunity was the rule. The legislature has abolished sovereign immunity in this area. The public duty only rule, if it ever was recognized in Wyoming, is no longer viable." Id. at 653. The DeWald court also cited with approval the reasoning of the New Mexico Supreme Court in rejecting the public duty rule in New Mexico. Id. at 653.