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State Has Sovereign Immunity for Claims Regarding the Design or Construction of a Highway

In Vanderbloom v. State of Vermont, Agency of Transportation, 2014 VT 103 (August 21, 2015), the Vermont Supreme Court considered the claim of a woman who sought to sue the State for negligently designing and constructing a highway on which she suffered a terrible motor vehicle collision.

Issue: Whether the State waived its sovereign immunity in a case alleging negligent highway design and construction.

Holding: The Court affirmed the grant to summary judgment to the State, finding that 12 V.S.A. § 5601(e)(8) preserves the State’s sovereign immunity against “any claim arising from the selection of or purposeful deviation from a particular set of standards for the planning and design of highways,” and Plaintiff was unable to establish that the State intended, but failed, to comply with certain standards when it designed and built the highway at issue.

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