When Government Screws Up

By : Brad Schroeder

“I have been harmed (either physically or financially) by the actions of a government entity.  Is there anything I can do?” We field questions like this often. The most common answer is, “It depends.”

While historically government was immune from suit under an old English concept in the law called “sovereign immunity” – literally decreeing that the king or queen could not be sued – the laws in the United States today have carved out significant exceptions to this principle. In Iowa, a law called the Iowa Tort Claims Act (Iowa Code Section 669 today) was passed in 1964 which specifically made the State of Iowa liable for common negligence and other matters, if certain procedures are followed in making a claim.  The same sort of liability potentially exists for cities, counties, and other government entities in Iowa under a similar statute, Iowa Code Section 670. In short, both Code sections provide that government entities in Iowa can be made liable for the harms to citizens they commit through wrongful or negligent acts of its employees acting in the scope of their duties.

So while some people may be inclined to throw up their arms, or shrug their shoulders, and declare with resignation “You can’t beat city hall,” many times you can get redress against city hall – or any other number of government subdivisions in Iowa. The right lawyer can help you figure out of you have a valid claim, and if so can help you navigate the process and get a fair recovery.


Brad is a co-founder and partner in the law firm Hartung Schroeder. He believes in advocating for people in many areas of the law. He regularly represents clients in matters pertaining to family law, business law and personal injury. You can learn more about Brad or get in touch with him here.