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Official Immunity for Private Engineering Firms Acting As City Engineer

Engineering firms in Minnesota that contract with a municipality to serve as the city engineer recently received a significant victory in the Minnesota Supreme Court. In its decision in Kariniemi v. City of Rockford, A14-0796,  __ N.W.2d ___ (Minn. July 27, 2016), the supreme court ruled that private engineering firms that serve as city engineer for a municipality qualify as a “public official,” and therefore, may be entitled to common-law official immunity for discretionary conduct relating to the feasibility, design, and progress of public works projects.  The court likewise ruled that the municipality contracting with the private engineering firm to serve as city engineer may be entitled to vicarious official immunity for the alleged negligent acts of its “non-employee City Engineer.” Steve Buterin has prepared a short summary of the decision, which can be found here.

The decision in Kariniemi will likely have a significant impact on engineering firms throughout Minnesota that contract with municipalities to serve as city engineer.  To learn more about the decision in Kariniemi and its potential impact on engineering firms throughout Minnesota, please feel free to contact Steve Buterin at 952.841.2500, or by email at: sbuterin@heleyduncan.com.