Guardians ad Litem Entitled to Absolute Quasi-Judicial Immunity – Published Opinion from Ky. Court of Appeals

Gambrel v. Croushore ex rel. Villarreal

Campbell Circuit Court

The issue in this case was whether court-appointed guardians ad litem (“G.A.L.”) enjoy absolute quasi-judicial immunity from malpractice claims arising from their role in child custody proceedings. Absolute immunity against suits for money damages has been extended to non-judicial officers performing quasi-judicial duties. Kentucky extends quasi-judicial immunity to those persons performing tasks so integral or intertwined with the judicial process that the persons are considered an arm of the judicial officer who is immune. Where the G.A.L. acts within the scope of duties imposed by law, quasi-judicial immunity is available. G.A.L.s’ functions are to protect the best interests of children, not to advocate for the children’s wishes—the same duty as the trial court. Furthermore, public policy compels the availability of immunity because G.A.L.s should be free from harassment by unfounded litigation which could shade a G.A.L.’s decisions. G.A.L.s are entitled to absolute quasi-judicial immunity.

Digested by Nathan R. Hardymon