AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Pursuits - Law Enforcement
See also: Negligence:
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability for Police Pursuit Driving (I), 2007 (2) AELE Mo. L. J. 101. [Feb. 2007].
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability for Law Enforcement Pursuit Driving (II): Scott v. Harris, 2007 (6) AELE Mo. L.J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Shooting at Moving Vehicles, 2010 (9) AELE Mo. L. J. 101
Rather than submit to
an officer armed with an arrest warrant, a man drove off in his car, leading
officers on a high-speed chase. The pursued man twice called police dispatch,
claiming that he had a gun and threatening to shoot the officers. The dispatcher
broadcast these threats and the possibility that the motorist might be
intoxicated. A tire spike strip was placed beneath a highway overpass in
an attempt to stop the pursued vehicle. A state trooper drover to that
location, radioing a plan to shoot and disable the car. He later spotted
the vehicle and fired six shots. The car engaged the spikes, hit the median,
and rolled. The motorist was killed by the trooper's shots. No shots hit
the car's engine block, radiator, or hood. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed
a denial of qualified immunity to the trooper on an excessive force claim.
The Court did no address whether firing at the vehicle in this manner under
these circumstances was a Fourth Amendment violation, but rather ruled
that the trooper was entitled to qualified immunity because prior precedents
did not indicate that it was "beyond debate" that he acted unreasonably.
He had confronted a fugitive that was reported to be intoxicated, who was
trying to evade arrest through a high-speed car flight, and who had twice
threatened to shoot officers. At the time of the shooting, the vehicle
was moments away from reaching the trooper's location. Mullenix v. Luna,
#14-1143, 2015 U.S. Lexis 7160.
Because of genuine disputed issues of material fact, a Texas state trooper who shot and killed a driver during a high-speed chase was not entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. At the time the driver was shot from a bridge in his approaching vehicle, the risk posed by his flight was disputed. Based on the evidence, a reasonable jury could conclude that he did not pose a substantial and immediate risk, since traffic on the divided highway at the time was light, non-lethal methods of stopping him that had already been prepared were not given a chance to work, and there were no pedestrians, businesses, or residences along the highway there. The fact that the driver had previously threatened to shoot the officers did not establish that he posed an immediate risk at the time that he was shot. Luna v. Texas Dept. of Public Safety, #13-10899, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 16785 (5th Cir.).
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that officers did not use excessive force when they shot the driver of a vehicle fleeing from a traffic stop to end a dangerous high-speed car chase. Both the driver and his passenger died. While the Court ruled that this conduct did not violate the Fourth Amendment, even if it had, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity when no cases were cited that clearly established the unconstitutionality of using deadly force to end a high-speed car chase. Firing a total of 15 shots during the 10-second span was reasonable when the driver never abandoned his attempt to flee. While ordinarily, a trial court order denying summary judgment is not a final decision and therefore not immediately appealable, a denial based on a qualified immunity claim can be immediately appealed, and therefore the federal appeals court had jurisdiction to hear the appeal, but erroneously did not grant the officers qualified immunity. Plumhoff v. Rickard, #12-1117, 2014 U.S. Lexis 3816.
The estate of a pursued motorist who died when his vehicle veered off the road during a high speed pursuit claimed that the defendant officer used excessive force by intentionally colliding with the decedent's car during the chase. The officer's motion for summary judgment was upheld, based on the testimony of three expert witnesses who said that the scratches on the officer's car did not match those on the decedent's car and that no reasonable jury could conclude that the police car had actually collided with the decedent's vehicle. Wourms v. Fields, #13-1178, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 2221 (7th Cir.).
A sheriff's deputy, responding to a request from a 16-year-old boy's mother, sought to locate him after he left home in the family vehicle and try to bring him into custody. When he spotted the boy in the car, a high speed pursuit occurred, reaching 99 miles per hour. The boy's car veered off the road and rolled over, ejecting the by, who subsequently died. In a lawsuit against the deputy and the county by the boy's parents, the Utah Supreme Court overturned summary judgment for the deputy on a negligence claim, finding that officers engaged in a pursuit owe a duty of care to all person, even including fleeing suspects. The court did, however, uphold summary judgment for the county. Torrie v. Weber County, #2012-0500, 2013 UT 48, 2013 Utah Lexis 120.
A deputy pursued a motorcycle he observed speeding after it failed to stop when he asked it to. Ultimately, the pursued motorcycle crashed and the deputy found it off the pavement. The motorcyclist died from injuries suffered in the accident. Upholding summary judgment for the deputy and the county, the court found no evidence to support the argument that the deputy's actions caused the motorcyclist to lose control of his vehicle. There was nothing to show that the deputy's vehicle was anywhere near the motorcycle at the time of the accident. Nor was there any evidence of a physical crash between the motorcycle and the deputy's vehicle. A reconstruction of the accident also seemed to support the conclusion that speed did not cause the crash. Estate of Smith v. Cumberland County, #12-10, 2013 ME 13, 2013 Me. Lexis 13.
A woman seriously injured when struck by a vehicle driven by a drug suspect being chased at high speed by officers could not recover damages from the city or its personnel for negligence. The woman was standing behind a car struck by the suspect's vehicle, and lost her left leg as a result. An intermediate Minnesota Appeals court ruled that the defendants were entitled to official immunity under state law for the exercise of discretion in deciding whether or not to initiate and continue the pursuit of a suspect attempting to flee arrest for a serious drug felony. There was no evidence that the officers acted willfully or maliciously, which would have defeated their official immunity defense. Plaster v. City of St. Paul, # A10-1738, (Minn. App.).
A highway patrol officer was entitled to qualified immunity for shooting and killing a female motorist who had, shortly before, led officers on a high-speed chase, and who appeared to him to be trying to use her car as a weapon against other officers. No prior case law would have put him on notice that using deadly force under these circumstances would shock the conscience, Casey v. Markgraf (In re A.D.), #09-16460, 636 F.3d 555 (9th Cir. 2011).
In a lawsuit over a deputy's shooting and killing of an unarmed motorist following a high-speed pursuit, the trial court acted erroneously in denying a number of defendants summary judgment on the plaintiffs' inadequate training claims. Other than "bare assertions" by the plaintiffs, there was "not a scintilla" of proof that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference and thereby created a training program so deficient that it caused the motorist's death. Harvey v. Campbell County, #09-5041, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 9656 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
A California Highway Patrol officer was entitled to qualified immunity for shooting and killing a female motorist at the conclusion of a high-speed pursuit of an allegedly stolen vehicle. The motorist refused to surrender, yelled obscenities at the officer, and put the car into reverse to ram the police car several times. The officer feared that the motorist would run over other officers present at the scene. While the jury, in awarding damages to the woman's minor children, decided that the officer had acted with a purpose to cause the motorist harm unrelated to a legitimate law enforcement purpose, the federal appeals court found that "the question is not whether an objectively reasonable officer would believe it was constitutional to harm without a legitimate law enforcement objective, but whether such an officer would believe, in the circumstances" faced, that "a legitimate law enforcement objective existed." No prior case law "would have alerted him that his split-second decision in dealing with someone who had just led police on a dangerous high-speed chase and who was using her car as a weapon shocked the conscience." A. D. v. State of California Highway Patrol, #09-17635, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 6906 (9th Cir.).
An officer in Delaware engaged in a high-speed chase of carjackers that ended when the suspects struck and killed another motorist after going through a red light. In a lawsuit against the city and police department, as well as the officer, by the deceased motorist's estate, the Supreme Court of Delaware reversed summary judgment for the defendants. It found that a reasonable juror, based on the alleged facts, could have found that the pursuing officer had been grossly negligent in beginning, conducting, or terminating the pursuit, and had caused the motorists' death. The court found that it could not hold, as a matter of law, that under no circumstances could a jury have found the defendants liable. Jones v. Crawford, #481, 2009, 2010 Del. Lexis 359.
A police officer, in driving the police vehicle which struck the decedent's car in an intersection did not act so egregiously, outrageously, or conscience-shocking, in particular, he did not act with the intent to harm the decedent or harm her passenger, which was the applicable standard for civil rights liability, when the officer was responding to an emergency at the time, a 911 call reporting an assault and theft in a parking lot by two men posing as store security guards. Sitzes v. City of W. Memphis, #09-2090, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 11355 (8th Cir.).
During a high-speed chase, two armed robbery suspects extinguished their car's headlights, and two miles later collided with a motorist turning into a gas station while on his way to work, who died in the accident. The motorist's widow sued, arguing that the pursuing officers violated her husband's substantive due process rights by maintaining the pursuit after the suspects turned off their headlights. Granting the officers qualified immunity, the appeals court found that their conduct did not "shock the conscience" because their alleged violations of departmental policy were not clear, and the armed robbery crime was a serious offense. Furthermore, even if it was found that their actions violated the decedent's constitutional rights, those rights were not "clearly established" at the time of the incident. Jones v. Byrnes, #08-1889, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 24476 (6th Cir.).
Late at night, a police officer pulled his vehicle behind a motorcyclist traveling at 43 miles per hour in a 30 mile-per-hour zone. The motorcyclist increased his speed to elude the officer, and a ten-minute chase ensued, reaching speeds near 90 miles-per-hour. The motorcyclist lost control of his vehicle and crashed, suffering injuries. Rejecting claims that the officers acted with reckless disregard for safety, an intermediate New York appellate court ruled that the accident and the motorcyclist's injuries were caused by his own actions, not the police decisions to begin or continue pursuit. Greenawalt v Village of Cambridge, #506616, 2009 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 7963 (3rd Dept.).
Relatives of a motorist shot and killed by a police officer at the conclusion of a vehicular pursuit sued the officer and city for excessive use of force. During the pursuit, the motorist had run a red light, tried to ram a police vehicle, and drove on the wrong side of a highway. The officer was attempting to deploy drop sticks, and the motorist then swerved his vehicle towards him. This was followed by the officer firing four or five times, striking the motorist in the back of the head and killing him. Affirming summary judgment for both the officer and the city, a federal appeals court first stated that the facts hypothetically could constitute an excessive use of force if, as the defendants accepted for purposes of appeal, the officer did not face immediate danger and no innocent bystanders were nearby. Qualified immunity, however, was still proper for the officer, since he did not act unreasonably in believing that the potential danger to others justified the use of deadly force under the circumstances. There was no showing of a policy or custom of the city causing the death as required for municipal liability. Cordova v. Aragon, #08-1222, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 13043 (10th Cir.).
A police officer was entitled to qualified immunity for allegedly terminating the threat posed by an intoxicated driver he was chasing at high speed down a rural narrow curvy highway by bumping his vehicle from behind, sending it off the road into a ravine. The motorist subsequently died from resulting injuries. The fact that the officer may have violated department policy or a radioed order from a supervisor to terminate the chase did not alter the determination that his actions did not violate clearly established law for purposes of qualified immunity or that his actions were reasonable under the circumstances. "Stuck between the choice of letting a presumptively intoxicated and reckless driver continue unabated or bumping the suspect off the road," the court stated, the officer "chose the course of action that would potentially save the lives of individuals who had no part in creating the danger." The court also pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Scott v. Harris, #05-1631, 550 U.S. 372 (2007), that "a police officer's attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death." Scott, however, was not determinative in the immediate court's ruling, as it was decided after the chase at issue, which occurred in 2000. The fact that the officer only raised the qualified immunity defense fifty-two months after the lawsuit was filed, the appeals court held, did not prejudice the plaintiff when it was still two months before the close of discovery and six months before a pre-trial conference. Pasco v. Knoblauch, No. 08-60242, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 9448 (5th Cir.).
A videotape of an incident in which police broke a motorist's leg while removing him from his vehicle following a chase through a residential area showed that the officers acted reasonably, and did not use excessive force. The officers acted in order to neutralize what they reasonably perceived as a threat after the motorist fled from an officer's vehicular pursuit and then apparently refused orders to leave the vehicle at the end of the chase. Although the chase began over an expired license, the motorist's behavior justified the officer's suspicion that he was dangerous. Rejecting the arrestee's argument that the jury should determine, from the videotape, recorded from an officer's car, whether or not the force used was excessive, the court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court, in similar circumstances, instructed federal courts to determine, as a matter of law, from watching such videotapes, whether the force depicted was excessive, taking the evidence in the light most favorable to the arrestee. Dunn v. Matatall, No. 08-1094, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 24305 (6th Cir.).
The U.S. government and a capitol police officer were sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act for negligence in attempting a traffic stop, followed by a high-speed chase of a stolen car, ending in a crash. A car crash victim and the father of a deceased victim of the crash claimed that the victims had accepted a ride in the stolen vehicle unknowingly, shortly after it had been acquired in an armed carjacking. The court held that applicable standard under the FTCA was local laws concerning vehicular negligence applying to private citizens, not to government employees, and that, under that standard, the plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for negligence under District of Columbia law. Lee v. U.S.A., Civil Action No. 06-2184, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 62047 (D. Ok.).
A police officer struck and killed a pedestrian with his vehicle while responding to a non-emergency call. A federal appeals court found that this incident, while "tragic," only involved, at most, negligence or gross negligence, but was insufficient to show a violation of constitutional substantive due process rights, regardless of whether an intent-to-harm standard (used for chases) or a lower standard of deliberate indifference was used. The officer in this case did exceed the speed limit but failed to act with a "recklessness" sufficient to breach a constitutional duty. Daniels v. City of Dallas, No. 07-10883, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 6619 (5th Cir.).
A deputy sheriff pursued a car traveling 73 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone, and the motorist accelerated to speeds in excess of 85 mph. After ten miles and six minutes of pursuit, the deputy tried to use a precision intervention technique to stop the pursued vehicle but wound up applying his push bumper to the rear of the pursued car. The pursued car crashed, and the motorist was rendered a quadriplegic. Negligence and battery claims under Georgia state law were rejected on the basis of the plaintiff's failure to show that the deputy or other defendants had an "actual intent" to cause injury or acted with malice. Harris v. Coweta County, Ga., No. 07-13941, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 353 (11th Cir.).
Police officers involved in high-speed pursuits are entitled to qualified immunity in all cases unless it can be shown that they acted with a deliberate intent to harm those injured in the incident. The chase in this case lasted over an hour, covered almost 90 minutes, and involved at least a dozen units and a helicopter. A motorist who saw the pursuit moved to avoid the police vehicles, and they safely passed him, but minutes later, the defendant officer, who was joining the pursuit, approached, traveling almost 100 miles per hour, and his vehicle's tires slipped from under him, and he sideswiped the motorist's vehicle. Both vehicles then spun out of control, and the motorist suffered injuries. In this case, the defendant officer did not act with any intent to harm or any motivation other than doing his job, attempting to catch a fleeing suspect who was a danger to the community. The court ruled that the "intent to harm" standard applies to all high-speed chases, not only those which involve "emergencies" or "split-second decisions." Bingue v. Prunchak, No. 05-16388, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 805 (9th Cir.).
City was not liable for personal injuries suffered by motorist when his vehicle was struck by another car that was being pursued by police, since there was no evidence that officers acted in a willful and wanton manner. The officers pursued the vehicle after finding that the license plates on it belonged to another car. The appeals court found that it was undisputed that traffic was light, the roads were dry, and the weather was clear at the time. The mere fact that the police vehicle was proceeding at a high speed was insufficient to show willful and wanton conduct. Shuttlesworth v. The City of Chicago, No. 1063433 2007 Ill. App. Lexis 1160 (1st Dist).
Federal ranger's actions in engaging in a high speed chase of a fleeing vehicle did not result in the U.S. government being liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1346(b)(1) for the death of a passenger in the pursued vehicle. A federal appeals court ruled that, as a matter of law, the passenger's death was caused by the behavior of the driver of the pursued vehicle and not the actions of the ranger. There was no evidence that would show that the pursuit was not necessary, that the ranger hit the fleeing vehicle, or that there was a roadblock. Additionally, because the offender sped off quickly, the ranger was unable to obtain the license plate number of the pursued vehicle, so there was no evidence that the fleeing offender could simply be apprehended at a later time. Belew v. U.S.A., No. 07-12881, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 24461 (11th Cir.).
Officer who allegedly did not use lights and a siren or summon assistance when engaging in the high-speed pursuit of a vehicle was not liable for injuries suffered by a passenger in a car struck by the pursued vehicle. The officer, the court found, did not create the danger that resulted in the plaintiff's injuries, and he did not engage in conduct that shocked the conscience. Rhoten v. Pase, No. 06-3346, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 24796 (10th Cir.).
A deputy responded to a complaint about a suspicious vehicle driving up and down a street and stopping in front of home. The deputy saw the vehicle and followed it, but lost sight of it. The following morning, a 16-year-old male was found dead from a single-vehicle accident involving a collision of his car with a utility pole at approximately 100 miles per hour. A federal appeals court ruled that the deputy's actions were legitimate law enforcement activity designed to identify a suspicious vehicle, and did not violate the youth's constitutional rights. Additionally, rejecting a state law negligence claim, the court found that there was no indication that the deputy's actions caused the youth to flee in a manner that caused the accident. O'Neal v. Cazes, No. 06-31004, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 23011 (5th Cir.).
Even if officers chasing a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver intentionally caused a collision which resulted in the pursued truck flipping over, killing the driver, they did not violate the driver's Fourth Amendment constitutional rights. The driver had allegedly stolen beer from a store after the store refused to sell it to him because of his intoxicated condition. The use of deadly force against the intoxicated driver was justified after he refused to stop, weaving in and out of traffic, crossing the center lane of the highway, and traveling at 55 to 65 miles per hour, as well as continuing to evade the officers even after he collided with another motorist. Based on the driver's recklessness, he posed a threat to the safety of other motorists. Beshers v. Harrison, No. 05-17096, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 19289 (11th Cir.).
City and officer were not liable for the death of two passengers killed in a collision with a vehicle being pursued at high speed by a city policy officer. Even if the officer may have violated the city's pursuit policy, her actions did not indicate that she had an intent to harm the decedents or the occupants of the pursued vehicle or that her actions "shocked the conscience." Meals v. City of Memphis, No. 05-5953, 05-5974, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 16386 (6th Cir.).
A deputy's conduct was objectively reasonable when he pursued a motorcyclist who refused to stop in response to his flashing blue lights and siren, with the eight-mile pursuit resulting in a collision which caused the death of the motorcycle rider. His actions in pursuing the motorcyclist, who was under the influence of methamphetamine, and who was observed crossing double yellow lines while passing a vehicle on a curve, were necessary to respond to a situation putting other motorists at risk of harm. Abney v. Coe, No. 06-1607, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 15841 (4th Cir.).
After an officer stopped a vehicle whose license plate was falling off, the driver drove away, resulting in a chase, and in the first 30 seconds of that chase, the pursued motorist's vehicle crossed the median strip and struck another car, killing one occupant and severely injuring two others. Upholding summary judgment for the county and its chief of police, a federal appeals court found that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the officer's actions caused the accident, death, and injuries. The court reasoned that it was possible that the pursued motorist would have crossed to median strip in trying to pass slower moving cars even in the absence of the officer's pursuit. While the plaintiffs argued that the county had not properly trained its officers, and had a policy amounting to "pursue at all costs," which failed to provide consideration to the safety of the public, an examination into county policy would only be relevant if a constitutional violation were first found. The court found no violation of the constitutional due process rights of the occupants of the vehicle hit by the pursued motorist. Best v. Cobb County, Georgia, No. 07-11007, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 15877 (11th Cir.).
City was entitled to summary judgment in lawsuit concerning injuries suffered by a bystander in a crash at the conclusion of the police pursuit of a stolen vehicle following an aggravated robbery and car jacking. The city's evidence addressed the role of each officer and how they assessed both the need for the pursuit and the risk factors involved in conducting the pursuit, while the plaintiff's evidence, testimony of an expert witness, assessed the risks of the pursuit, but never addressed the factor of the need for the pursuit. There was sufficient undisputed evidence that the officers had acted in good faith, and the plaintiff failed to show that no reasonably prudent officer could have assessed the need and risks as the police officers did in this case. The Texas Supreme Court entered a judgment dismissing the case. City of San Antonio v. Ytuarte, No. 05-0991, 2007 Tex. Lexis 411 (Tex.).
In a lawsuit brought over the death of a pursued motorcycle rider and serious injuries suffered by his passenger, the appeals court upheld summary judgment for the pursuing officers, the city, and the police department on a federal civil rights claim. There was no evidence that there was any contact between an officer's car and the motorcycle, and no evidence that the officers acted in a manner which was shocking to the conscience and intended to cause harm which was unrelated to a legitimate government interest. Steen v. Myers, No. 06-1771, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 11887 (7th Cir.).
An officer did not violate the Fourth Amendment by trying to terminate a high-speed pursuit when it appeared to threaten the lives of by-standers, even when the manner of doing so involved placing the fleeing motorist at a risk of death or serious bodily injury. Scott v. Harris, No. 05-1631, 2007 U.S. Lexis 4748 Factual issues as to whether a police officer intentionally bumped a motorist's car during a high-speed chase and caused his death required the reversal of a summary judgment for the officer in a civil rights lawsuit over the death. Pasco v. Knoblauch, No. 06-60059, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 5742 (5th Cir.).
In a lawsuit over the death of a pedestrian hit by a police car during a high-speed pursuit, the city was entitled to immunity from liability under a California state statute, Vehicle Code Sec. 17004.7, providing immunity to public agencies that adopt written policies to guide such pursuits. Alcala v. City of Corcoran, No F049383, 2007 WL 316685 (Cal. 5th App. Dist.). [N/R]
County and police officer were not liable for death of passenger in vehicle that was followed for 15 miles at speeds of over 100 miles per hour without the officer's unmarked vehicle having its siren activated. During the pursuit, various traffic laws were disobeyed, and the passenger's death occurred when the car in which he was riding crashed. Because the officer lacked any intent to harm the occupants of the pursued vehicle, the high-speed pursuit did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. White v. Polk County, No. 06-12975, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 29312 (11th Cir.). [N/R]
Police officer was not negligent in pursuing a vehicle which subsequently struck another car and injured the driver, but, under a Nebraska state statute, the city was strictly liable for damages suffered under these circumstances. The city, however, was entitled to deduct from its liability the amount of insurance payments received by the injured motorist. McGrath v. City of Omaha, No. S-04-1239, 713 N.W.2d 451 (Neb. 2006). [N/R]
Police officers had a non-discretionary duty under their department's pursuit policy to discontinue the vehicular pursuit of a suspect whose identity was known, in the absence of specified serious felonies, and were therefore not entitled to official immunity under Minnesota law for failing to discontinue their pursuit in a lawsuit brought by the widow of a pedestrian killed as a result of the pursuit. Mumm v. Mornson, #A04-729, 708 N.W.2d 473 (Minn. 2006). [N/R]
Deputy sheriff did not act with reckless disregard for safety when he joined a high-speed pursuit of a motorist behind two other police vehicles, and the pursued car collided with another driver. There was no indication that the pursued suspect even knew that there was a third police vehicle chasing him. There was also no evidence that the pursued motorist's conduct change after the third police vehicle joined the chase, so this deputy was properly granted summary judgment. Athay v. Stacey, #31164, 128 P.3d 897 (Idaho 2006). [N/R]
Counties, cities, villages, and their employees were entitled to immunity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/1-101 et seq. on claims that they failed to respond to a caller's report that a driver's vehicle left the road and was currently in a ditch. The statute provides immunity on claims for failing to adequately provide "police protection services," and applies to claims concerning the failure to aid motorists who have gone off a road. DeSmet v. County of Rock Island, No. 100261, 848 N.E.2d 1030 (Ill. 2006). [N/R]
Indiana Tort Claims Act did not provide governmental immunity to officer or city for the officer's purported negligent operation of his car against a red light while engaged in pursuing a suspect, resulting in injuries to another motorist. Patrick v. Miresso, No. 45803-0505-CV-223, 848 N.E.2d 1083 (Ind. 2006). [N/R]
Genuine issue of whether police vehicles actually blocked traffic going northbound on a road during a high speed chase, resulting in injuries to a motorist, barred summary judgment for defendants in negligence lawsuit. Charles County Commissioners v. Johnson, No. 104, 900 A.2d 753 (Md. 2006). [N/R]
Regardless of police officer's subjective motive in attempting a traffic stop of a teenage driver, his decision to make the stop, and to engage in a high-speed pursuit when the driver refused to pull over and sped off, did not shock the conscience. The officer, police chief, and town were not liable for the driver's subsequent death when he lost control of his car during the chase. Graves v. Thomas, No. 05-7084, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 15174 (10th Cir.). [2006 LR Aug]
Upholding a jury award against a city in a case where a motorist was injured from a collision with a police cruiser engaged in a high speed pursuit, a Maryland appeals court ruled that a police department order stating that, during such pursuits, officers were required to bring their vehicles to a full stop when they crossed an intersection against traffic control devices was admissible evidence. The court also found that the jury in the case had properly been instructed that the officer was bound by the department order and that it could consider the order when deciding whether the officer acted in a reasonable manner. Baltimore v. Hart, 891 A.2d 1134 (Md. App. 2006). [N/R]
Officer was entitled to official immunity under Georgia state law from liability for injuries to three passengers and death of driver in vehicle struck by car fleeing from him during high-speed pursuit. The officer's decision to engage in the chase was discretionary, and there was no evidence that the officer went beyond the scope of that discretion by any wrongful act or any intention to cause harm to the deceased motorist or his passengers. Hanse v. Phillips, No. A05A0955, 623 S.E.2d 746 (Ga. App. 2005). [N/R]
Police officer was not liable in a federal civil rights lawsuit for either death of child passenger in vehicle pursued after it fled license checkpoint or injuries to passengers in car struck by pursued vehicle when he was only attempting to seize the driver of the fleeing car, did not know the child was in the pursued vehicle, and the collision was an unintended consequence of the pursuit. Sanders v. City of Union Springs, No. 2:04-cv-757, 405 F. Supp. 2d 1358 (M.D. Ala. 2005). [N/R]
Officer who pursued motorist into crowded downtown area could not be held liable for injuries pedestrian suffered when pursued driver took his car onto the sidewalk. Officer, who did not even exceed the speed limit while following the car, could not be said to have acted in a willful and wanton manner under Illinois law, as required for liability. Wade v. City of Chicago, No. 1-04-0642, 2006 Ill. App. Lexis 201. [2006 LR May]
Officer failed to show that he pursued a suspect in good faith during a high speed chase, as required for an official immunity defense under Texas state law in a lawsuit filed by a motorist whose car was struck by the pursued suspect's vehicle. The officer, in his summary judgment affidavit did not state any facts to show that he assessed the risk of harm to members of the public if he continued his pursuit. Conklin v. Garrett, No. 12-04-00344-CV, 179 S.W.2d 626 (Tex. App. 12th Tyler 2005). [N/R]
Officer's action of conducting a high-speed pursuit of a speeding motorist constituted a "method of providing law enforcement" coming within an exception to state liability under the Georgia Tort Claims Act, Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 50-21-24(6), so there was no liability for the Georgia Department of Public Safety for injuries a motorist suffered in a collision with the vehicle being pursued by a state highway patrolman. The argument that the patrolman had violated written procedures and a state statute in engaging in the pursuit did not alter the result. Blackston v. Georgia Department of Public Safety, No. A05A1319, 618 S.E.2d 78 (Ga. App. 2005). [N/R]
Officers did not use excessive force in pulling motorist from his vehicle and handcuffing him at the conclusion of a thirty-minute pursuit after observing his erratic driving. Officers could reasonably have believed he was intoxicated, and was uncooperative, and their actions were "measured" under the circumstances, as they did not then know that he was undergoing diabetic shock rather than intoxication. Janis v. Biesheuvel, No. 05-1660, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 22991 (8th Cir.). [2005 LR Dec]
Officers who shot at car containing suspect attempting to flee from service of felony drug arrest warrant were not liable for subsequent death of one of his passengers and serious injuries to another when his car later crashed into a wall. The cause of the death and injuries was the suspect's decision to flee, not the officers' use of deadly force. Shooting at the suspect was reasonable when an officer believed that the suspect was trying to run him over. Troupe v. Sarasota County, Fla., #04-10550, 419 F.3d 1160 (11th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR Dec]
The question of whether a police high-speed chase of a stolen tow truck was reasonable was for a jury, and expert testimony was not required to determine whether the officers acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others in chasing the vehicle, which collided with a car, seriously injuring one of the occupants. Issues of highway safety and traffic laws were not matters outside of the common knowledge of the jury. New trial ordered on plaintiff's claims, overturning trial court's judgment as a matter of law for the defendants. Seide v. State of Rhode Island, No. 2003-521, 875 A.2d 1259 (R.I. 2005). [N/R]
Police officer was engaged in attempting to enforce the law when he pursued a van whose driver he suspected was drunk, which resulted in the pursued van colliding with another motorist's vehicle, causing the driver's death. Under these circumstances, the officer, police department and town were immune from liability under Indiana state law. Chenoweth v. Estate of Wilson, #27A05-0406-CV-313, 827 N.E.2d 44 (Ind. App. 2005). [N/R]
Motorists who alleged that they were injured in a collision caused by the police engaging in a high-speed pursuit of another motorist could not pursue, under Connecticut state law, a claim against the town for indemnification of the officers without directly bringing claims against the town's employees or agents (the officers). The defendant town's motion for summary judgment was therefore granted. Gaudino v. Town of East Hartford, No. 24660, 865 A.2d 470 (Conn. App. 2005). [N/R]
Deputy who intentionally rammed a speeding motorist he was pursuing, rendering the driver a quadriplegic, was not entitled to qualified immunity when the motorist's only offense was speeding. Supervisor, who authorized a safer "Precision Intervention Technique" (PIT), which the deputy did not carry out, was entitled to summary judgment. Harris v. Coweta County, No. 03-15094, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 6721 (11th Cir.). [2005 LR Jun]
Factual issue as to whether state trooper had acted with gross negligence in beginning and failing to end a high-speed pursuit of a motorist suspected of driving under the influence (DUI), resulting in the death of the pursued driver, was an issue for the jury, so that award of $250,000 in damages (reduced from jury's $3.75 million award under applicable limits under state law) was proper. Officer was not entitled to discretionary immunity for his decision to start or continue the immediate pursuit of a suspect. Clark v. South Carolina Department of Public Safety, No. 25926, 608 S.E.2nd 573 (S.C. 2005). [N/R]
Jury could properly find that officer's use of police dog to detain suspect following high-speed pursuit of car was proper when he then believed she was a burglary suspect and was attempting to flee arrest. Exclusion of testimony of expert witness was not an abuse of discretion when his testimony would be irrelevant to whether the officer acted in a reasonable manner. Marquez v. City of Albuquerque, No. 02-2294, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 3299(10th Cir.). [2005 LR Apr]
Update: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, rehearing case en banc, rules by 10-3 that "intent to harm" is the appropriate legal standard for liability for motorist's death caused by collision with police vehicle going through red light at high speed while responding to a domestic disturbance call. Prior adoption of "deliberate indifference" legal standard by appeals panel overturned. Majority of court also finds that deputies would be entitled to summary judgment, under the circumstances, even under the lesser "deliberate indifference" standard. Terrell v. Larson, No. 03-1293 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 1815 (8th Cir.) [2005 LR Mar]
An arrestee who admittedly fled from officers to avoid arrest for possession of controlled substances, and then was struck and injured by a police car as he crossed in front of it, committed a seriously offense of resisting arrest, which barred him from seeking damages for his injuries under New York state law. Moore v. County of Suffolk, 783 N.Y.S.2d 72 (A.D. 2nd Dept. 2004). [N/R]
Motorist's claim of "gross negligence" by law enforcement personnel in civil rights lawsuit arising out of a vehicle accident were insufficient to support a claim of violation of substantive due process where there was no showing that they had any intent to harm anyone. Dillon v. Brown County, No. 03-3687 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 17840 (8th Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Oct]
Lawsuit by parents of a motorcyclist who died in an accident while being pursued by a police officer was not a claim for intentional misconduct when plaintiffs asserted that officer purposefully bumped motorcycle to end the pursuit, as it was not claimed that the officer intended to injury the motorcyclist. The lawsuit was not, therefore, barred by the Texas state Tort Claims Act, V.T.C.A. Civil Practice & Remedies Code Sec. 101.021 Durbin v. City of Winnsboro, No. 06-03-00046-CV, 135 S.W.2d 317 (Tex. App. 2004). [N/R]
Police officer whose vehicle collided with another motorist after allegedly running a red light while responding to a domestic disturbance call was not entitled to summary judgment from liability on the basis of qualified immunity in claim for damages. Officer's action, if as described by plaintiff, could constitute deliberate indifference to the possibility of harm coming to other drivers and their passengers. Two to one majority of appeals court panel finds that "deliberate indifference" rather than "intent to harm" was sufficient to impose liability under the circumstances, if officer had time to deliberate between alternatives. Terrell v. Larson, #03-1293 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 11417 (8th Cir.). [2004 LR Jul]
Summary judgment was properly entered for defendant city in wrongful death lawsuit brought under Washington state law concerning death of motorist which occurred during high-speed police chase when administrator of decedent's estate failed to comply with a statutory requirement that they personally sign the notice of claim against a municipality. Reyes v. City of Renton, No. 50154-2-1, 88 P.3d 155 (Wash. App. Division 1 2004). [N/R]
Any recklessness by one officer in continuing pursuit of vehicle after it spun out of control and hit a guardrail was "superseded" under Georgia state law by the actions of a second officer, from another city, in accelerating the speed of the pursuit to over 100 miles per hour at close range to pursued car. First officer and the city which employed him, therefore, were entitled to summary judgment in wrongful death claim made by family of driver of oncoming vehicle struck and killed by pursued car. City of Pooler v. Edenfield, No. A03A1538, 587 S.E.2d 408 (Ga. App. 2003). [2004 LR Apr]
Under Georgia law, county which had not purchased liability insurance for damages arising from officers' negligence in the performance of their duties did not waive sovereign immunity and could not be held liable for motorists' injuries from collision with truck pursued by police. Smith v. Chatham County, No. A03A1133, 501 S.E.2d 388 (Ga. App. 2003). [N/R]
County's purchase of liability insurance on vehicle used by sheriff's deputy in high-speed chase waived any defense of sovereign immunity on claims asserted by motorist for injuries to herself and her daughter when struck by vehicle deputy was pursuing. Summary judgment was still properly entered for deputy, however, as plaintiff failed to show that deputy acted in reckless disregard of proper procedure during the pursuit. Standard v. Hobbs, 589 S.E.2d 634 (Ga. App. 2003). [N/R]
Whether or not police officers initially decided to stop a motorist on the basis of impermissible "racial profiling," once he refused to stop, they had probable cause to seek to stop him and arrest him for the crime of fleeing, and they were therefore entitled to qualified immunity from liability for the death of a vehicle occupant caused by a collision with the pursued car and injuries to another occupant of that vehicle. Slusarchuk v. Hoff, No. 02-3601, 346 F.3d 1178 (8th Cir. 2003). [2004 LR Feb]
Jury awards $2 million to family of woman killed in collision with vehicle being pursued by police officers. The lawsuit claimed that police policy required that the pursuit stop after the pursued vehicle struck a truck, but there was evidence that the pursuit continued until the subsequent collision occurred when the pursued vehicle crossed the center line in the road, killing the plaintiff's decedent. Santillana v. City of Chicago, No. 00L8327, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, reported in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, pg. 3 (December 15, 2003). [N/R]
Officer's action of drawing his gun when approaching a suspect's vehicle at the conclusion of a one-mile pursuit was not unreasonable under the circumstances. Officer was entitled to qualified immunity for the shooting of the motorist when he accidentally slipped and his gun discharged. McCoy v. City of Monticello, No. 02-2941, 342 F.3d 842 (8th Cir. 2003). [2004 LR Jan]
Officer was entitled to qualified immunity for shooting and killing a suspect who turned around and drove his vehicle towards officers at the conclusion of a high-speed pursuit. Officer could reasonably believe that the motorist was posing a significant threat of physical injury or death to himself and others. Hernandez v. Jarman, No. 02-3519, 340 F.3d 617 (8th Cir. 2003). [2004 LR Jan]
Proper legal standard for establishing liability of police officers engaged in a high-speed chase which injures third parties is "willful and wanton misconduct" under Illinois law, not ordinary negligence, rejecting argument by plaintiff motorists injured in collision with pursued vehicle in question certified for decision by the trial court. Lanning v. Harris, No. 3-02-0637, 796 N.E.2d 667 (Ill. App. 3d Dist. 2003). [N/R]
Further proceedings ordered on wrongful death lawsuit brought by estate of woman struck and killed by vehicle pursued by police in high-speed chase. Court finds genuine issues of material fact as to whether officer acted in a willful and wanton manner in chasing the suspect's car at high speed through commercial and residential suburban streets, knowing that the pursued vehicle was running stop signs and red lights, and whether it was reasonably foreseeable, under these circumstances, that a third party would be injured. Suwanski v. Village of Lombard, #2-02-0905, 794 N.E.2d 1016 (Ill. App. 2nd Dist. 2003). [N/R]
Mississippi Supreme Court upholds finding of liability of city for death of bystander killed when her vehicle was hit by a car driven by a check forgery suspect who was fleeing from police pursuit through a residential neighborhood. Court rules that officers acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others in conducting the pursuit, and were therefore not entitled to governmental immunity when they did not know whether the pursued suspect had committed a felony or a misdemeanor, violating the department's own order concerning the beginning of pursuits. City of Jackson v. Brister, No. 2001-CA-01393-SCT, 838 So. 2d 274 (Miss. 2003). [2003 LR Jun]
Proper legal standard for police civil rights liability for injuries to third parties resulting from collision with suspect's car during high-speed pursuit was whether officers intended to harm the pursued suspects physically or "worsen their legal plight," rather than deliberate indifference to the risk of harm. Epps v. Lauderdale County, Tenn., #00-6737, 45 Fed. Appx. 332 (6th Cir. 2002). [2003 LR Jan]
Michigan intermediate appeals court upholds award of over $2.2 million against city for injuries to motorist and her child resulting from collision with vehicle being pursued by police. Appeals court rejects retroactive application of Michigan Supreme Court decision that changed state law governing the motor vehicle exception to governmental immunity in the state. Ewing v. City of Detroit, No. 225401, 651 N.W.2d 780 (Mich. App. 2002). [2003 LR Jan]
City, officers, and sheriff's department were entitled to immunity from liability on wrongful death claim brought by estate of motorist killed while he was being pursued in a high-speed chase, when there was evidence that the decedent had committed criminal offenses of aggravated assault, speeding, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, and resisting arrest. There was a causal relationship between his criminal acts and his death, and the trial court did not have to make a factual finding as to whether the officers acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others under a state statute, A.M.C. Sec. 11-46-9(1)(c) requiring that an individual bringing a lawsuit against an officer not be involved in a crime at the time of the alleged injury. Tory v. City of Edwards, 2001-Ca-01316-COA, 829 So. 2d 1246 (Miss. App. 2002). [N/R]
Officer did not use excessive force in positioning his truck directly in front of motorist's truck, drawing his gun, and physically removing motorist from vehicle after motorist had allegedly been involved in two hit-and-run accidents and had failed to stop after a roadblock with marked police vehicles, three stop stick attempts, or after all his tires had deflated. Harrell v. Purcell, 236 F. Supp. 2d 526 (M.D.N.C. 2002). [N/R]
State trooper's pursuit of a speeding van proximately caused the death of a motorist whose car was struck by the pursued vehicle so that the state was liable under Nebraska state law for the motorist's death. Nebraska Supreme Court orders a trial on the issue of damages. Meyer v. State of Nebraska, #S-01-303, 650 N.W.2d 459 (Neb. 2002). [2002 LR Dec]
Illinois jury awards $11 million to 17-year-old passenger injured in car allegedly pursued at 70 m.p.h. by officers who wanted driver because of outstanding warrant on drug charges. Municipality found liable for 80% of award, while driver of pursued car found liable for 20%. Salonica Prado v. The City of Evanston, et al., No. 97L-14541, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division, June 11, 2002, reported in The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 3 (July 12, 2002). [2002 LR Aug]
Passenger injured in high-speed pursuit of car in which she was riding is awarded $11 million by Illinois jury. Prado v. Evanston, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division, reported in the Chicago Tribune, Section 2, page 5 (June 13, 2002). [2002 LR Jul]
Texas police officer was engaged in a discretionary action in pursuing a fleeing suspect, even though he was ordered by a superior to give pursuit, when the manner of conducting the pursuit was left to his discretion. Officer was therefore entitled to official immunity as a defense to a lawsuit brought by an individual injured in a collision with the pursued car. Clark v. University of Houston, No. 14-96-00005-CV, 60 S.W.3d 206 (Tex. App. 2001). [2002 LR Mar]
Bringing reckless driving charges against motorcyclist, if motivated to hinder or prevent him from filing a civil lawsuit against arresting officers who had engaged in a high-speed chase in which he was injured, could constitute a violation of his First Amendment rights, even if criminal charges would otherwise be warranted. Poole v. County of Otero, No. 00-2215, 271 F.3d 955 (10th Cir. 2001). [2002 LR Mar]
City waived any defense of sovereign immunity in lawsuit brought by motorist injured during police chase by participating in a liability risk pool on the date when the accident occurred. It could not reclaim its waiver of sovereign immunity by ceasing to participate in the state risk pool, in the absence of consent by the plaintiff motorist. Cromwell v. Rapid City Police Department, No. 21582, 632 N.W.2d 20 (S.D. 2001). [N/R]
Officers and city were not liable for the death of a bicyclist struck by a pursued vehicle driven by fleeing drug dealer suspects who had previously fired at officers. Officers, who pursued suspects with lights and sirens activated, did not act with gross negligence or recklessness in conducting pursuit. Sergent v. City of Charleston, No. 28479, 549 S.E.2d 311 (W. Va. 2001). [2002 LR Jan]
46:152 $5.05 million settlement in lawsuit by estate of motorist struck by car being pursued by sheriff's deputies. Carboni v. Enterprise Leasing Co., Fla., Palm Beach County 15th Jud. Cir. Ct., No. 98-006647, Dec. 1, 2000, reported in 44 ATLA Law Rptr. No. 5, p. 167 (June 2001).
343:103 City could not be held liable for deaths of motorists killed in a collision with a pursued car, regardless of the constitutionality of the city's policies, training and supervision on high-speed pursuits, when individual officers involved in the chase did not violate the decedents' constitutional rights. Trigalet v. City of Tulsa, Okl., #98- 5261, 239 F.3d 1150 (10th Cir. 2001).
342:87 Denver jury awards $2.25 million to family of young man killed in collision with police vehicle traveling at high speed in non-emergency situation, which allegedly went through a red light with flashing lights activated, but no siren. Williams v. City & County of Denver, No. 90- N117611a, U.S. Dist. Ct., Denver, Co., reported in The National Law Journal, p. A6 (April 16, 2001).
342:88 Estate of woman who died following police high-speed pursuit of suspect driving the wrong direction on an interstate highway was not entitled to jury's award of $744,000 when evidence did not show that the officers had an "intent to harm. Smith v. City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., Common Pleas Ct., National Law Journal, p. A7 (April 23, 2001).
341:72 Officer was not entitled to qualified immunity for engaging in high-speed pursuit of driver operating a stolen vehicle, including pursuit of vehicle once it began to go the wrong way on an interstate highway; further proceedings ordered in lawsuit by family of deceased motorist struck by pursued vehicle. Feist v. Simonson, No. 99-1687, 222 F.3d 455 (8th Cir. 2000).
340:59 Officer's alleged conduct of driving 57-61 miles per hour in a 25 m.p.h. zone, without lights and sirens, while responding to a non-emergency radio call, was not conduct that "shocked the conscience"; no liability for officer or employer for collision with motorist's vehicle. Leddy v. Township of Lower Merion, 114 F. Supp. 2d 372 (E.D. Pa. 2000).
338:24 Officer's high-speed pursuit of a motorcyclist who he believed had no valid driver's license was an "emergency call" within the meaning of an Ohio state statute providing immunity for accidents arising during such calls; genuine factual disputes as to whether officer acted in a willful and wanton manner in continuing pursuit, however, required further proceedings. Wagner v. Heavlin, No. 704, 737 N.E.2d 989 (Ohio App. 2000).
331:106 Officer and city were not entitled to immunity for injuries to pedestrian struck by officer's vehicle as he followed speeding motor vehicle; officer's actions did not qualify as "pursuit" as speeding motor vehicle was not attempting to flee officer. Torres v. City of Perth Amboy, 748 A.2d 125 (N.J. Super. A.D. 2000).
327:41 Officer's deliberate ramming of fleeing motorist's vehicle did not constitute conduct shocking to the conscience which would render officer and city liable for resulting injury to nearby pedestrian hit by a car pushed by suspect's vehicle after he lost control of it. Davis v. Township of Hillside, #98-6176, 190 F.3d 167 (3rd Cir. 1999).
320:123 Federal appeals court rules that "shocks the conscience" standard in high-speed pursuit civil rights lawsuits applies to injuries suffered by third parties as well as to injuries suffered by driver or occupants of pursued vehicle; no liability for pursuit of erratic driver who collided with another motorist's car. Onossian v. Block, #97-56169, 175 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 1999).
320:122 Federal trial court allows civil rights claim over death that resulted from high-speed pursuit to go to trial, despite adoption of "shocks the conscience" standard by U.S. Supreme Court; rules that decision to continue pursuit the wrong way down a busy interstate highway at high speed presented factual issue as to whether conduct "shocked the conscience." Feist v. Simonson, 36 F. Supp. 2d 1136 (D. Minn. 1999).
319:106 California Highway Patrol was immune from liability for death of woman struck by pursued car when it had adopted written policy on vehicular pursuits which complied with requirements of state statute. Ketchum v. State of California, 64 Cal. App. 4th 957, 73 Cal.Rptr.2d 152 (1998), modified in Ketchum v. State of California, 63 Cal. App. 4th 740A, 1998 Cal. App. Lexis 384.
318:92 Officer who pursued, at high-speed, truck he reasonably believed was driven by intoxicated driver did not act in disregard of the safety of others, since he activated lights and siren, pursuit was not in a heavily populated area, and the duration of the chase was relatively brief; no liability for injuries to motorist from collision with pursued vehicle. Hall v. Village of Bartonville Police Dept., 699 N.E.2d 148 (Ill. App. 1998).
316:59 City reaches $750,000 settlement with estate of driver whose vehicle was struck by pursued car driven by 9-year-old child who had left the scene of an accident; city was not entitled to immunity under California statute based on inadequate pursuit policy. Colvin v. City of Gardena, U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., No. CV 97-4896-HLH (MCX), Apr. 30, 1998, reported in 42 (1) ATLA Law Rptr. 8 (Jan. 1999).
310:154 City liable for $5.1 million to estate of one killed and two injured when their vehicle was struck by motorist fleeing from high-speed police pursuit; lawsuit asserted that officer was pursuing vehicle, which was going 70 miles per hour, without sirens or emergency lights activated. Khouri v. City of Chicago, No. 92 L 15214 (Circuit Court, Cook County, Ill.), (Sept. 4, 1998), reported in The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Vol. 144, No. 175, p. 1 (Sept. 8, 1998).
308:115 A police officer does not violate substantive due process by causing death through deliberate or reckless indifference to life in a high-speed automobile chase aimed at apprehending a suspected offender. Only a purpose to cause harm unrelated to the legitimate object of arrest will satisfy the element of arbitrary conduct shocking to the conscience necessary for a due process violation. County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 118 S.Ct. 1708 (1998).
306:89 No liability on the part of the city for injuries to officer who was passenger in police vehicle pursuing suspect; officer driving vehicle did not act in "reckless disregard" of safety of others since he had lights and sirens operating when his car was struck by a van. Mulligan v. City of New York, 664 N.Y.S.2d 484 (A.D. 1997).
305:72 Officers did not act unreasonably in pursuing motorist believed to be intoxicated, or in using roadblock to stop him; motorist's appearance and actions gave them grounds to believe he might be a danger to himself or others. Latta v. Keryte, 118 F.3d 693 (10th Cir. 1997).
303:43 Federal appeals court rules that Fourth Amendment, rather than "substantive due process" was the appropriate legal standard for liability in high speed chase which resulted in injuries to passengers in pursued vehicle; no liability found where officer had probable cause to arrest driver, but driver fled. Mays v. City of East St. Louis, 123 F.3d 999 (7th Cir. 1997).
303:42 Officers surrounding of pursued vehicle on the left and right, and placing a third police vehicle in front of it, did not amount to a "rolling road-block" or seizure, in absence of any indication they intended to stop vehicle through physical impact; officers not liable for collision which resulted when driver of pursued vehicle attempted to break out of surrounding vehicles to escape. White v. Tamlyn, 961 F.Supp. 1047 (E.D. Mich. 1997).
302:26 Officers did not "shock the conscience" by engaging in high-speed pursuit of vehicle during inclement weather even if doing so was in violation of a departmental directive; officers had reason to suspect that fleeing driver might be intoxicated and could constitute a danger to the public. Boveri v. Town of Saugus, 113 F.3d 4 (1st Cir. 1997).
290:23 Deputy's pursuit of suspect vehicle at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour, which ended only after pursued driver lost control of his vehicle and was ejected from his car, fatally injuring himself, did not constitute a search or seizure of the vehicle and did not violate either the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment; no county liability when deputy's actions did not constitute a constitutional violation Story, Estate of, Through McNair v. McDuffie County, 929 F.Supp. 1523 (S.D.Ga 1996).
292:59 Officer was entitled to official immunity for engaging in high-speed pursuit of fleeing vehicle which collided with oncoming car; reasonable minds could differ as to whether continued high-speed pursuit was justified; Texas appeals court rules that state was entitled to sovereign immunity from liability for alleged negligence once officer it employed was ruled entitled to official immunity Texas, State of, v. McGeorge, 925 S.W.2d 105 (Tex. App. 1996).
293:73 Estate of motorist killed in collision with police vehicle at intersection receives $425,000 settlement on claim that officer, who ran a red light, was traveling at an excessive speed and failed to activate siren while engaged in high-speed pursuit of suspect Stupakis v. Borough of Braddock Hills, Pa, settled before filing, reported in 39 ATLA L.Rptr. No 7, p. 282 (Sept 1996).
293:73 Federal appeals court rules that legal standard for federal civil rights liability in high speed pursuit cases is deliberate indifference; rules that officer was not entitled to qualified immunity in chase of motorcycle in 1990 which led to passenger's death, since law was "clearly established" then; insufficient evidence of any municipal policy of deliberate indifference in training results in summary judgment for county and sheriff's department Lewis v. Sacramento County, 98 F.3d 434 (9th Cir. 1996).
297:147 Update: U.S. Supreme Court to decide proper legal standard for federal civil rights police liability for high speed pursuits Lewis v. Sacramento County, 98 F.3d 434 (9th Cir. 1996), cert granted, Sacramento County v. Lewis, 117 S.Ct. 2406, 1997 U.S. Lexis 3534 (June 2, 1997).
299:171 Border Patrol found liable for death of six people in collision with stolen vehicle smuggling illegal aliens agents were pursuing at high speed; $1,011,60619 awarded in damages, with claim for loss of future earnings of one decedent still pending Murillo v. United States, SACV940006, U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal, Feb 25, 1997, reported in Los Ang. Daily Jour. Verd. & Sett., p. 4 (May 23, 1997).
284:122 Pursuing a vehicle which had run a stop sign was a discretionary act; deputy was entitled to official immunity, under Georgia state law, for initiating and continuing pursuit and was not individually liable for injuries resulting from his vehicle's collision with another car during the pursuit Morgan v. Causey, 910 F.Supp. 651 (M.D. Ga 1996).
280:58 Police officer engaged in high speed pursuit of speeding truck which had been "racing" was not liable for injuries to occupants of another vehicle struck by pursued truck; officer's actions in giving pursuit were reasonable and not reckless Mullane v. City of Amsterdam, 622 N.Y.S.2d 346 (A.D. 1995).
280:58 Iowa Supreme Court rules that liability for injuries to motorists caused by collision with pursued vehicle can only be based on reckless conduct by police in pursuit, not mere negligence; officer and city not liable when pursued vehicle had already been in hit-and-run accident and pursuit of already speeding car was designed to prevent further harm Morris v. Leaf, 534 NW2d 388 (Iowa 1995).
281:74 Officers not liable for injuries to woman struck and injured by vehicle driven by drug suspects they were pursuing at high speed Evans v. Avery, 897 F.Supp. 21 (D.Mass 1995).
281:74 Transit district liable for $13 million to female college student who lost her left leg after she was hit by vehicle which allegedly was being pursued by transit district police officers; transit district denied officers were in pursuit at the time of the accident Pogosyan v. Southern California Rapid Transit District, No BC 070 359, Superior Ct Los Angeles, Cal, Dec 15, 1995, reported in The Natl. Law Jour., p. A11, January 15, 1996, 39 ATLA L. Rep.112 (April 1996).
281:75 Deputy not liable for death of pursued motorist who lost control of his vehicle after deputy's car bumped his rear bumper Sturges v. Matthews, 53 F.3d 659 (4th Cir. 1995).
287:170 City liable for $755,600 to estate of young girl killed in collision with stolen car allegedly being pursued by police vehicle; officers asserted that they were not pursuing stolen car but happened upon accident while on routine patrol Estate of Reed v. City of Chicago, No 91L-15529, Cir. Ct Cook County, Chicago, IL March 13, 1996, reported in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 6 (May 3, 1996).
266:27 Federal appeals court rules that liability of police and city for violating due process rights of motorists struck and killed by vehicle fleeing police high speed pursuit cannot be based on "reckless indifference" to harm, but instead must be based on conduct which "shocks the conscience" Fagan v. City of Vineland, 22 F.3d 1283 (3rd Cir. 1994); Fagan v. City of Vineland, 22 F.3d 1296 (3rd Cir. 1994).
269:72 Alabama Supreme Court reinstates lawsuit by estate of motorist killed in collision with vehicle pursued by officer; summary judgment was improper when there was an issue of fact as to whether officer had discontinued pursuit once he was notified that a roadblock was in place to intercept the pursued vehicle Seals v. City of Columbia, 641 So.2d 1247 (Ala 1994).
269:73 New Jersey appeals court holds that statutes providing immunity do not apply in high speed pursuit cases where it is the officer's own vehicle which injures an innocent motorist, rather than the pursued vehicle Fielder v. Jenkins, 274 NJ Super 485, 644 A.2d 666 (NJ Super AD 1994).
270:92 Officer and city not liable for injuries to vehicle occupants injured in collision with vehicle being pursued at high speed; officer acted reasonably in engaging in pursuit of vehicle containing prison escapee suspected of violent crimes who was armed and had been drinking Webber v. Mefford, 43 F.3d 1340 (10th Cir. 1994).
271:104 Michigan appeals court rules that estate of motorcyclist who died in collision during high speed pursuit of his motorcycle by state troopers could not recover damages from pursuing troopers Jackson v. Oliver, 514 NW2d 195 (Mich App. 1994). Editor's Note: For another recent case reaching a similar result, see Beck v. Zabrowski, 650 A.2d 1152 (Pa/Cmwlth. 1994), holding that a police officer and his employer were not liable for the death of a motorist who ran off the road and struck a utility police while being pursued by the officer based on a radio report that his vehicle had left the scene of an accident
272:118 Texas Supreme Court rules that officers engaging in high speed pursuit of motorcycle which ran red light had a duty to drive carefully to prevent injury to passenger on back of motorcycle; adopts objective reasonableness/good-faith requirement for official immunity under state law; rules that officers' conduct did not "shock the conscience" and therefore that no federal civil rights claim was stated Lancaster, City of v. Chambers, 883 S.W.2d 650 (Tex. 1994).
273:140 Tennessee Supreme Court, overturning prior state precedents, rules that negligence in initiating or continuing high-speed pursuit may be a basis of liability on the part of law enforcement agencies for collisions occurring between pursued vehicles and vehicles of innocent third parties Haynes v. Hamilton County, 883 S.W.2d 606 (Tenn 1994).
273:141 Pursuing officers did not "seize" pursued vehicle when driver lost control and his vehicle crashed into drainage ditch; officers and municipality were entitled to summary judgment in injured motorist's Fourth Amendment constitutional civil rights lawsuit Wozniak v. Cavender, 875 F.Supp. 526 (N.D.Ill. 1995).
274:151 Deputy sheriff did not act with gross negligence in pursuing, but not attempting to stop, vehicle in which he believed gunman was fleeing; plaintiff's failure to plead that county had waived immunity by purchasing liability insurance barred claim against county under N.C. law Clark v. Burke County, 450 S.E.2d 747 (N.C. App. 1994).
274:152 Use of police car to block highway, resulting in injury to pursued motorcyclists, would violate clearly established law if intentionally done knowing that serious injury was likely to occur and that pursued motorcyclists would not have time to stop their vehicle or take other action to avoid collision Buckner v. Kilgore, 36 F.3d 536 (6th Cir. 1994).
City was immune from liability under Pennsylvania law for injuries suffered by motorist injured by vehicle driven by fleeing suspect pursued by police Burnett v. City of Philadelphia, 620 A.2d 50 (Pa/Cmwlth. 1993).
Evidence of only one prior incident of alleged excessive use of force by officer did not, by itself, establish pattern of "persistent and widespread" constitutional violations sufficient to show municipal custom Russell v. Town of Chesapeake, 817 F.Supp. 38 (WDW.Va. 1993).
Police department was immune from suit by parents of person killed in crash caused by robber fleeing police high speed pursuit; California statute grants statutory immunity for injuries resulting from police pursuits provided city adopts pursuit policy meeting guidelines Brumer v. City of Los Angeles, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 515 (Cal App. 1994).
Collision of pursued motorcycle with police vehicle partially blocking road did not constitute a "seizure" by the pursuing officer for Fourth Amendment purposes when he did not intend this to be the means of ending the pursuit Horta v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 2 (1st Cir. 1993).
INS agents were not negligent in initiating and continuing high-speed pursuit of suspected alien smuggler on California freeway; no liability for U.S. government for injuries of driver of vehicle hit by pursued suspect vehicle Cimo v. INS, 16 F.3d 1039 (9th Cir. 1994).
Highway patrol trooper was not willfully and wantonly negligent in pursuing intoxicated teenage driver traveling at over 90 miles per hour; teen girl's own intoxication, speeding, and turning off of her vehicles lights were the cause of her death in collision occurring during pursuit Stone v. Ohio State Highway Patrol, 63 Ohio Misc 2d 351, 629 N.E.2d 1116 (Ohio Ct Cl 1993).
Georgia appeals court rules that police pursuit is ordinarily not a contributing cause of injuries to others resulting from collision with pursued party's vehicle; city and officer were not liable for death of motorist whose car was struck by fleeing suspect Mixon v. City of Warner Robins, 434 S.E.2d 71 (Ga App. 1993).
Under Pennsylvania law, the criminal acts of a pursued suspect, rather than the decision of an officer to initiate and conduct a pursuit were the cause of the death of a third-party motorist Angle v. Miller, 629 A.2d 238 (Pa/Cmwlth. 1993).
Michigan city liable for $38 million to passenger in vehicle who suffered fractured neck in collision with police vehicle pursuing another car; police vehicle did not have sirens and flashing lights in operation Schwartz v. City of Inkster, Mich, No 91-128106, Cir. Ct Wayne County, Mich, Nov 1, 1993, reported in The Natl. Law Jour. p. 11 (Nov 15, 1993).
"No meaningful restraints" on officers engaged in high-speed chases to protect innocent third parties under Tennessee state law, appeals court rules, upholding dismissal of suit by third parties injured in collision with police vehicle chasing suspect Garren v. City of Englewood, 854 S.W.2d 892 (Tenn App. 1993).
New York jury awards $104 million to woman and her son severely injured in collision between bus and police vehicle which was in pursuit of a motorcycle which had run red lights Marmol v. City of New York, NY Sup Ct reported in Chicago Tribune, Sec 1, p. 29 (June 3, 1993).
Alabama Supreme Court overturns directed verdict for police officer sued by security guard he hit with his truck while pursuing suspected shoplifter in mall parking lot; substantial evidence of "wantonness" created an issue of fact for the jury Henderson v. City of Mobile, 611 So.2d 249 (Ala 1992).
City liable for $356,932 for death of motorcycle passenger on motorcycle being pursued by police officer; officer was negligent in continuing high speed chase in residential area Stewart v. City of Omaha, 242 Neb 240, 494 N.W.2d 130 (1993).
City was not entitled to immunity under California law from liability for death of motorist in collision with suspect's vehicle being pursued when pursuit policy did not furnish adequate guidelines as to when to initiate or terminate high speed pursuits Payne v. City of Perris, 16 Cal.Rptr.2d 143 (Cal App. 1993).
Speeding motorist's behavior, not the actions of a police officer in pursuing him, was the sole proximate cause of the death of two teenagers in a collision with the motorist's car Mid Century Insurance, Co v. City of Omaha, 242 Neb 126, 494 N.W.2d 320 (Neb 1992).
Jury award $13 million in damages to motorist injured in collision with police vehicle involved in high speed pursuit Denson v. City of Chicago, No 86-L-8636, Circuit Ct, Cook County, Ill, reported in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 1 (Jan 28, 1993).
Estate of man killed as he swerved his truck to avoid being hit by speeding car pursued by officers awarded $1036 million Middelstadt v. City of Chicago, Cir. Ct Cook County, Ill, reported in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 3 (Jan 21, 1993).
Deputy sheriffs not entitled to qualified immunity from liability for allegedly intentionally ramming a pursued vehicle during a high-speed chase of a fleeing misdemeanant, which culminated in the death of a passenger in the pursued vehicle; intentional ramming constituted an unreasonable seizure that would have been apparent to a reasonable officer Adams v. St Lucie County Sheriff's Dept, 962 F.2d 1563 (11th Cir. 1992). Reversed and vacated on rehearing en banc, 998 F.2d 923 (11th Cir. 1993), granting qualified immunity because it was not clearly established at the time of the pursuit that deadly force was not allowed against a misdemeanant.
High-speed pursuit of traffic offender by 14-20 vehicles over 25-mile of public streets was not an action for which officers were entitled to sovereign immunity under Florida law; officers engaged in the pursuit owed a duty of care to motorists killed when their vehicle was hit by the pursued car City of Pinellas Park v. Brown, 604 so 2d 1222 (Fla 1992).
Officers were entitled to qualified immunity for allegedly reckless pursuit of stolen car which collided with and injured bicyclist; it was not "clearly established" in 1986 that officers could be liable, under federal civil rights law, for injuries caused by a suspect they were chasing or for reckless conduct in general Medina v. City and County of Denver, 960 F.2d 1493 (10th cir 1992).
Seven-year-old child who was injured and lost both parents in accident with police vehicle engaged in high-speed pursuit receives $365 million settlement Moses v. City of Chicago, reported in Chicago Sun-Times, p. 11 (July 28, 1992).
Officer was not liable for death of child struck by car driven by suspect fleeing from him at high speed Pletan v. Gaines, 481 N.W.2d 566 (Minn. 1992).
Officers' one-minute high speed pursuit of motorcyclist did not make them liable for motorcyclist's crash with another vehicle McElreath v. Progressive Insurance Co, 595 So.2d 693 (La App. 1992).
New Jersey statute barring officer's liability for injuries caused by "escaping or escaped person" gave officer immunity in suit over damages caused by collision of pursued vehicle with vehicle driven by another motorist Tice v. Cramer, 604 A.2d 183 (NJ Super AD 1992).
City whose officers joined high speed pursuit in progress and continued it after other municipalities desisted was liable for $378 million for death of motorist and injuries to passenger in vehicle struck by car being pursued May v. City of Southfield, Mich Wayne County Cir. Ct, Nos 90-010334-NO, 90- 010338-NO, Nov 20, 1991, reported in 35 ATLA L. Rep.174 (June 1992).
When deputy's chase of speeding auto had ended before pursued vehicle struck another vehicle, injured motorist had no claim against county for breach of duty Smith v. County of Milwaukee, 470 N.W.2d 274 (Wis 1991).
Estate of driver who died in accident while engaged in high speed chase fleeing from Ohio state police could sue officers and state for negligence York v. Ohio State Highway Patrol, 60 Ohio St 3d 143, 573 N.E.2d 1063 (1991).
California court holds that Highway Patrol was entitled to immunity from liability for injury resulting from high-speed pursuit because it adopted a written policy on vehicular pursuits, even if it was not followed in a particular pursuit Kishida v. State, 280 Cal.Rptr. 62 (Cal App. 1991).
Estate of woman killed in collision with police-pursued vehicle could sue officer and city for negligence without showing that officer "directly" caused her death Seals v. City of Columbia, 575 So.2d 1061 (Ala 1991).
City and officer were not entitled to "discretionary function" immunity for high-speed pursuit of suspect resulting in death of pedestrian child Pletan v. Gaines, 460 N.W.2d 74 (Minn. 1990).
Passenger injured in crash of car being chased by police awarded $101 million for negligence against city and driver Mrecado v. Vega, 556 N.Y.S.2d 30 (A.D. 1990).
Even if risk of harm to the public from high speed pursuit was foreseeable, county could not be liable to accident victim, because decisions regarding chase were discretionary Lowrimore v. Dimmitt, 781 P.2d 411 (Or App. 1989).
Officers were not negligent in initiating and conducting chase of vehicle in which driver lost control Bellows v. Amsterdam, 550 N.Y.S.2d 486 (A.D. 1990).
Michigan court upholds $225 million award against city for injuries to motorist struck by van pursued by officer; officer was immune Frohman v. City of Detroit, 450 N.W.2d 59 (Mich App. 1989).
Officers' alleged negligence did not cause death of 13-yearold in fatal collision after officers cut off chase of his bike Jenard v. Halpin, 567 A.2d 368 (RI 1989).
Tennessee supreme court holds that negligence of fleeing suspect, not pursuing officers, was sole cause of death of motorist killed in collision with suspect's vehicle Kennedy v. City of Spring City, 780 S.W.2d 164 (Tenn 1989).
High-speed pursuit of vehicle with mismatched license plates, resulting in collision, was not gross negligence Roach v. City of Fredericktown, 882 F.2d 294 (8th Cir. 1989).
City could not be held liable for injuries to passenger in car pursued by officers simply for failure to adopt any policy regarding high speed pursuit Veach v. Cross, 532 N.E.2d 1069 (Ill App. 1988).
Officer driving police vehicle during emergency without using siren was immune from liability for simple negligence under Maryland law Taylor v. City of Baltimore, 549 A.2d 749 (Md 1988).
Sheriff's deputies could be sued for injuries to motorist from unmarked concealed roadblock and high-speed chase of his car Reed v. Allegan County, 688 F.Supp. 1239 (WD Mich 1988).
One-time violation of rule on high speed chase would not render city or department liable, since no policy was demonstrated Dawes v. Pellechia, 688 F.Supp. 842 (E.D.N.Y. 1988).
Kentucky governmental entities immune from liability for injuries suffered by motorist in Indiana struck by car fleeing Kentucky police officers Clement v. State of Indiana, 524 N.E.2d 36 (Ind App. 1988).
While pursuing officer might be liable for recklessness in pursuit, neither "clocking" officer nor police chief were liable under vehicle liability exception to immunity Force v. Watkins, 544 A.2d 114 (Pa/Cmwlth. 1988).
Estate of motorcyclist who died following high speed pursuit could not file civil rights lawsuit York v. Lamantia, 674 F.Supp. 17 (N.D.Ohio, 1987).
City only 2% negligent in death resulting from high speed chase of drunk driver, but may be required to pay entire damages of $577,600 Gehres v. City of Phoenix, 753 P.2d 174 (Ariz App. 1987).
City and officer not liable for injuries sustained in three-car accident at end of high-speed chase of fleeing misdemeanant Roach v. City of Fredericktown, 693 F.Supp. 795 (E.D. Mo 1988).
Child passenger injured when pursued vehicle rolled over could not recover damages when cause of accident was driver's erratic driving Palella v. State, 530 N.Y.S.2d 650 (A.D. 1988).
Driver's negligence during high-speed chase was sole cause of passenger's death Nevill v. City of Tullahoma, 756 S.W.2d 226 (Tenn 1988).
Jury verdict for a third party motorist, whose vehicle was hit by a car pursued by police in a high-speed chase, is overturned by the North Carolina Supreme Court. Bullins v. Schmidt, 369 S.E.2d 601 (N.C. 1988).
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