September 15, 2022
Golick v. State of California
A troubled veteran who had been terminated from a mental health services program drove to the program facility armed with a semi-automatic rifle, held three employees hostage, and shot and killed them. Prior to killing the three employees, the veteran exchanged gunfire with a County sheriff’s deputy.
The employees’ families sued, alleging that, through the actions of the deputy, the County breached its duty to protect the employees from harm. The trial court dismissed the case, holding that the plaintiffs did not allege facts establishing a duty of care.
Plaintiffs appealed and the Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that the deputy’s duty to act reasonably when using deadly force did not include a duty to prevent the veteran from shooting the employees, and the facts as alleged did not show that the deputy’s actions increased the employees’ risk of harm. The Court also agreed there was no special relationship between the employees and the deputy because the deputy gave no assurances to the employees about their safety.