TIMOTHY ARCHER and RYANN ARCHER, individually and as wrongful death representatives of Sophia Archer, a minor, deceased, and as wrongful death beneficiaries and as natural parents and next friend of MA, a minor, LA, a minor, and OA, a minor, Appellants (Plaintiffs),
STATE OF WYOMING, ex rel., WYOMING DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; CITY OF RIVERTON, A Wyoming governmental entity and local government; and RIVERTON PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR KYLE BUTTERFIELD, individually and in his official capacity, Appellees (Defendants).
from the District Court of Fremont County The Honorable
Norman E. Young, Judge
Representing Appellants: Cynthia K. Van Vleet, Wind River Law
Center, P.C., Riverton, Wyoming; Collin C. Hopkins, The Law
Office of Collin Hopkins, P.C., Riverton, Wyoming. Argument
by Mr. Hopkins.
Representing Appellee State of Wyoming, ex rel. Wyoming
Department of Transportation: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming
Attorney General; Daniel E. White, Deputy Attorney General;
Jesse B. Naiman, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr.
Representing Appellees City of Riverton and Riverton Public
Works Director Kyle Butterfield: John D. Bowers, Bowers Law
Firm, PC, Afton, Wyoming.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL [*] , DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
This is a wrongful death case arising from the tragic death
of a seven-year-old girl, who was struck and killed in a
crosswalk on her way home from school. The driver held a
valid Wyoming driver's license even though she had
monocular vision, a glass eye, and could not have passed the
eye exam, which was administered by an employee of the
Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT). The child's
parents sued the WYDOT, the City of Riverton, Fremont County
School District No. 25, and various employees of those
governmental entities, asserting claims for wrongful death,
negligent infliction of emotional distress, and loss of
parental consortium (on behalf of the child's siblings).
The claims against the school district and its employees were
dismissed and Appellants do not appeal that decision. The
district court held that governmental immunity barred the
claims against the WYDOT, the City of Riverton, and their
employees, and dismissed the complaint. Appellants appeal
that order, and we affirm.
1. Does the WYDOT's performance of eye exams constitute a
public service for which governmental immunity has been
waived by Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-39-108?
the City of Riverton provide a public service for which
governmental immunity has been waived by Wyo. Stat. Ann.
§ 1-39-108 when it provided a marked street crossing?
the Appellants preserve a claim that the governmental
entities waived immunity under the insurance coverage
exception at Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-39-118(b)(i)?
Because this is an appeal from an order granting motions to
dismiss, "we accept the facts stated in the [amended]
complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff[s]." Town of Pine Bluffs v.
Eisele, 2017 WY 117, ¶ 8, 403 P.3d 126, 128 (Wyo.
Sophia Archer and her sister, LA, were crossing the street at
a marked crosswalk on their way home from school when Sophia
was struck by a motor vehicle driven by Sandra Pennock.
Sophia's mother, Ryann Archer, and her sister, OA,
arrived at the scene while witnesses were performing CPR and
before police officers had arrived. Sophia Archer suffered
numerous injuries and likely died at the scene. Sandra
Pennock received a driver's license from the WYDOT after
successfully completing an eye exam, which it would have been
impossible for her to pass in light of her monocular vision
and glass eye. The WYDOT issued a handicapped vehicle
identification to Ms. Pennock in 2015, two months before the
accident, which noted her severe visual or audio handicap.
The amended complaint alleges that the WYDOT eye examiner,
defendant Jane Doe, "was a public employee acting within
the scope of her employment and duties with the Wyoming
Department of ...