State Ag Department Not Responsible For Negligent Cattle Inspections.

The plaintiff sued the defendant for damages arising from alleged negligent cattle inspections.  State (WA) law allows the defendant to conduct mandatory cattle inspections to determine ownership of cattle, and cattle must be inspected before they are moved from WA to another state.  In this case, a third party leased cattle from the plaintiff and the plaintiff obtained a security interest in all cattle that the third party owned or leased from others.  The third party defaulted on the lease and transported cattle to Oregon for sale at a public livestock market without the plaintiff's knowledge or consent.  The defendant inspected the cattle at the Oregon market before they were sold.  The third party claimed that it owned all of the cattle, even though some of them had the plaintiff's brand.  The defendant allowed the cattle to be sold without impounding the cattle or holding the sale proceeds.  The public market sold the cattle and distributed the proceeds to the third party.  The plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence in inspecting the cattle.  The court held that the defendant's inspection involved a governmental function for which it could not be held liable in negligence.  Inspections, the court determined, were for the common good.  Sunshine Heifers, L.L.C. v. Washington Department of Agriculture, No. 46322-9-II, 2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 1599 (Wash. Ct. App. Jul. 21, 2015).