Probate Code Does Not Waive Sovereign Immunity for Tort Actions Against Department of Human Services (Me.)
William Dean Jr.’s sister and Dean’s conservator filed suit against the Maine Department of Human Services for actions the Department took while serving as Dean’s public conservator. In a consolidated action, a trial court denied the Department’s motion for summary judgment on the claims for breach of fiduciary duty, concluding that the Maine Probate Code expressly waived sovereign immunity and the Department was therefore subject to a tort action when acting as a public conservator.
The Department appealed. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the Department. The court held, in part, that the Probate Code does not expressly waive sovereign immunity and therefore the Department immune from tort claims for breach of fiduciary duty.