There is a growing trend in Virginia, as well as in many other states, for injured citizens to hold local governments liable for personal injuries and loss of property resulting from the negligent inspection by building officials of privately owned buildings and structures. The recent abrogation of the doctrine of sovereign immunity in the majority of jurisdictions has served to encourage such litigation, but abrogation alone has proven to be no guarantee of recovery for negligent inspection. Rather, the majority of jurisdictions have continued to enjoy immunity by asserting that building inspectors perform a discretionary governmental function for which no duty of care is owed to any specific individual or class of individuals. This defense, often called the "public duty doctrine," has recently been attacked as a" 'duty to all, duty to no-one' doctrine [which] is in reality a form of sovereign immunity . . . ."
Matthew W. Broughton,
Local Government Liability in Virginia for Negligent Inspection of Buildings, Structures and Equipment,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol18/iss4/6