Immunity

Accountants must  perform the acts that they have agreed to do under a contract with reasonable care[i].  An accountant is liable when his/her performance shows a lack of reasonable care or when s/he fails to follow accepted accounting principles[ii].  An accountant is not granted immunity by courts when there is lack of reasonable care, fraud or bad faith on the part of accountant[iii].

However in Peterka v. Dennis, 764 N.W.2d 829 (Minn. 2009), the court held that an accountant appointed as per the order of a court is entitled to immunity for duties performed by him/her.  In Peterka, petitioner sued her accountant for breach of contract and professional malpractice. Petitioner alleged that the accountant applied an incorrect method to value marital property in the form of business assets during the petitioner’s divorce.  Court referring the statute, Minn. R. Evid. 70, held that, an accountant is entitled to immunity for duties performed pursuant to their appointment.  In MILLS v. SMITH, 1960 OK 193 (Okla. 1960), court held that a tax assessor evaluating property for ad valorem tax assessment is engaged in a quasi-judicial duty and thus s/he is immune from private liability.

[i] In re Application of New Jersey Soc. of Certified Public Accountants, 102 N.J. 231, 242 (N.J. 1986)

[ii] Ryan v. Kanne, 170 N.W.2d 395 (Iowa 1969)

[iii] Gammel v. Ernst & Ernst, 245 Minn. 249 (Minn. 1955)


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