Dufresne 71 (Armand, Chief Justice of Maine Supreme Court, 273 A.2d 732; 1971 Me. LEXIS 293, Emile BLIER v. INHABITANTS OF TOWN OF FORT KENT; Emile BLIER v. Clarence BLIER, lexis)
The doctrine of the sovereign immunity of the State is an outgrowth of the medieval concept that "the King can do no wrong." It was extended to all political and governmental agencies of the State on the ground that since the State was not subject to suit nor liable for the torts or negligence of its agents, likewise subdivisions of the State, as governmental agencies of the State, were exempted to respond in damages for the negligent acts of their servants to the same extent as the [**10] State itself was. HN6Go to this Headnote in the case.The basic concept underlying the whole law of torts, however, is that liability follows negligence, and that individuals and corporations are responsible for the negligence of their agents and employees acting in the course of their employment. The doctrine of governmental immunity, running directly counter to that basic concept, has been subjected to judicial restrictions which have narrowed the range of the doctrine. The courts generally, including the Maine Court, have classified the activities of municipal corporations or state agencies as "governmental" and "proprietary", with full liability in tort imposed if the activity was classified as "proprietary" and non-liability [*736] if it was viewed as "governmental". This distinction between governmental and proprietary functions of units of local governments or state agencies was designed undoubtedly to alleviate the injustice of the results that would flow from an all-inclusive doctrine of sovereign immunity. See, Anderson v. City of Portland, supra; Wilde v. Inhabitants of the Town of Madison, 1950, 145 Me. 83, 87, 72 A.2d 635, 638. Furthermore, our Court relaxed the rule of non-liability where the [**11] tortious act was done by a municipal agent or employee acting not as a public officer, but rather as a special agent following specific authority or order of the governmental unit. Under such circumstances, our Court has said that the doctrine of respondeat superior would apply. Woodcock v. City of Calais, 1877, 66 Me. 234; Michaud v. City of Bangor, 1963, 159 Me. 491, 196 A.2d 106.