Partner Victoria Ronemus represented a substance abuse evaluator hired in connection with a child custody dispute. The husband (plaintiff) in the custody dispute alleged that he lost parental rights as a result of our client’s (the defendant’s) evaluations and drug testing. He then filed a complaint against our client alleging breach of contract, negligence, gross negligence, intentional fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Fullerton Beck moved to dismiss the case based on Quasi-Judicial Immunity Defense, which provides immunity to individuals serving in judicial capacities or who are delegated judicial or “quasi-judicial” functions in civil suits based on actions taken in their official capacities. This judicial immunity privilege is regularly applied to expert witnesses, including court-appointed forensic experts such as our client when they are appointed by the court.
The court granted Fullerton Beck’s motion and found that the defendant was entitled to judicial immunity, as a court-appointed evaluator, as they are an integral part of the judicial decision-making process. There was no evidence that our client acted outside the scope of his authority in performing his evaluation or reporting to the court; thus, the court dismissed all causes of action against our client.