SW Legal studies in Business

No Action Against the State for Negligence in Issuing Drivers License
Description Iowa high court held that the state could not be sued for negligence for issuing a driver's license to a person with very poor vision who then struck a person riding a bicycle. Even if the state should not have issued the license, there is still no statutory basis for such suit.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Regulatory Duty; State Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Kolbe was riding a bicycle when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Schulte. Kolbe suffered severe injuries. Schulte has very bad eyesight and was driving with a restricted license that did not allow him to drive faster than 45 mph. Kolbe sued the state of Iowa for negligence for issuing Schulte a license. The trial court dismissed the suit. Kolbe appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Even if the state breached its statutory and regulatory duty not to issue a driver's license to an applicant who is incapable of operating a vehicle safely, such breach did not give rise to a negligence claim against the state by the injured party. There is no statute expressly granting a private cause of action for violation of that duty. The public duty doctrine precludes imposition of common law duty on the state since there was no special relationship between the state and the accident victim. The issuance of licenses is nothing more than simply creating and limiting driving privileges.
Citation Kolve v. Iowa, - N.W.2d - (2001 WL 418401, Sup. Ct., Iowa, 2001)

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