High court to decide lawyer immunity question

September 27, 2011 - 10:40 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether private lawyers hired as outside counsels for governments can be sued.

The high court on Tuesday agreed to hear lawyer Steve Filarsky's appeal. He was hired by the city of Rialto, Calif., to investigate the possible misuse of sick leave.

A firefighter suspected of working on his house while on sick leave sued Filarsky after the investigation, but a federal judge threw it out, saying Filarsky had the same immunity as the city's lawyers. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying its rulings had never extended to a nongovernment worker the immunity government workers enjoy.

A separate appeals court — the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — has extended immunity to nongovernment employees.

The Supreme Court will now resolve this conflict.