Topic: Politics & GovernmentGovernment

Last updated: October 19, 2019

Duty to Act ExceptionsDuty to Act Exceptions The Legal Duty to Act is not nationally recognized. However, in some states, the Legal Duty to Act for personnel serving the public sector is specifically outlined. Many cases reach the courts debating whether individuals are obligated to act and have failed, or whether it is the public’s expectation that those individuals in public service sectors act. While it is required of personnel working for a specific government or public service sectors to be trained to act in cases of emergency, these individuals face exceptions in which they may be exempt from acting.

In 1981, a man collapsed near a fire station in Washington D.C. and did not receive aid. In Warren vs. District of Columbia (444 A.2d. 1, D.C.

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Ct. of Ap., 1981), the Court ruled that the government is under no obligation to provide public services to any individual (Mangeri 2017).

While the man collapsed outside of an agency that provides aid to the community, the Court’s ruling demonstrates that there is a difference between obligation and expectation and that these cases are not often clear.In the case of Samuels v. Cunningham et al., 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14479 (Dist.

Del. 2003), four detectives apprehended Samuels, and after he was handcuffed, a fifth detective allegedly punched Samuels (Ryan 2018). Samuels filed suit against these detectives. However, the state ruled that the four detectives detaining Samuels were unable to predict the actions of the fifth detective and were therefore not legally obligated to act in Samuel’s defense against the last detective.While the Legal Duty to Act is not always clear in what is defined as obligation versus expectation, many court cases demonstrate there are exceptions to the Act. Because these specifications do not exist in every state, it is difficult to determine what will be considered exceptions.

Individuals should act if it is possible, but these cases demonstrate that it is not always possible to do so due to many factors beyond an individual’s control.ReferencesMangeri Sr., A.

S. (2017, March 22). Duty to Act: Legal Obligations vs. Community Expectations. Retrieved from https://inpublicsafety.

com/2014/03/duty-to-act-legal-obligations-vs-community-expectations/Ryan, J. (2018, June 23). Duty of Officer’s to Intervene when Observing an Excessive Use of Force – LLRMI – Training and Expert Services for Law Enforcement, Jails ; Corrections, Insurance Pools, Risk Managers, and Attorneys. Retrieved from


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