Part I of this Article traces Washington's history with the common law doctrine of government immunity from tort liability. It also identifies other distinct common law immunities protecting executive, legislative, and judicial functions-immunities that lay dormant during the reign of sovereign immunity. Part II discusses the legislature's broad waiver of sovereign immunity in 1961 and the legislature's subsequent reaffirmation of the waiver. It also notes isolated instances in which the legislature has partially restored immunity or otherwise limited tort liability. Part III addresses the development of case law interpreting the scope of government tort liability in light of the legislative waiver of sovereign immunity and examines the impact of the remaining related common law immunities for executive, legislative, and judicial functions. Part III also examines the role of the "public duty doctrine," which has evolved as a conceptual framework for assessing whether a predicate duty supports government tort liability in any given circumstance. Finally, Part IV exalts the continuing value of holding government accountable for its tortious conduct, treating such accountability as a legitimate means to encourage responsible government and achieve individual justice. Part IV also urges that any marked retreat from the broad waiver of sovereign immunity is unnecessary and unjustified, whether viewed from a fiscal or ideological standpoint.
Debra L. Stephens and Bryan P. Harnetiaux, The Value of Government Tort Liability: Washington State's Journey From Immunity to Accountability, 30 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 35 (2006).