The Public Duty Doctrine
THE PUBLIC DUTY DOCTRINE
"Under the public duty doctrine, no liability may be imposed for a public official's negligent conduct unless it is shown that the duty breached was owed to the injured person as an individual and was not merely the breach of an obligation owed to the public in general." Specialty Asphalt & Construction, LLC v. Lincoln County, 191 Wn.2d 182, 198 (Wash. 2018) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted) (hyperlink added).
"An exception to the public duty doctrine applies if there is a 'special relationship' between the parties." Id. (internal citation omitted). "A special relationship arises where[:]
(1) there is direct contact or privity between the public official and the injured plaintiff which sets the latter apart from the general public, and
(2) there are express assurances given by a public official, which
(3) give[ ] rise to justifiable reliance on the part of the plaintiff.