AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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While police acted
properly in stopping a motorist's vehicle for a traffic violation, and
in asking her to exit the vehicle when she could not produce her vehicle
registration or proof of insurance, there were questions of genuine fact
as to whether they acted in an objectively reasonable manner in acting
as though she posed a risk to them or others based on her "argumentative"
behavior, and in conducting a pat-down search, even though they never stated
that they believed that she was armed. During the traffic stop, the motorist
fell, appeared to have a seizure, and died, apparently of a ruptured berry
aneurysm. The court rejected a state law wrongful death claim, since there
was no evidence that anything the officers did caused the bleeding or the
motorist's death. The plaintiff, the motorist's estate, could proceed with
a Fourth Amendment claim arising out of the pat-down search. Pinnock v.
City of New Haven, No. 3:05cv927, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 39008 (D. Conn.).
Minor child of motorist mistakenly shot and killed by police officers following pursuit, based on incorrect belief that he was suspect wanted for stealing police pistol, could not intervene in a wrongful death claim brought under Virginia state law by the personal representative of the decedent's estate. Personal representative adequately represented minor's interest as a beneficiary of the estate. A mere difference of opinion concerning litigation tactics did not show that personal representative's actions were "inadequate" as would justify a right to intervene in the case for the minor beneficiary. Jones v. Prince George's County, Maryland, #02-7104, 348 F.3d 1014 (D.C. Cir. 2003). [N/R]
In lawsuit claiming that police officers failed to provide adequate medical care to arrestee, resulting in his death, jury engaged in improper speculation in awarding $3 million to decedent's children without evidence to support a finding that the economic value of the loss of his services, advice, and counsel was worth that amount, and therefore was set aside by trial judge. Separate award of $2.5 million to decedent's estate for his pain and suffering was not disturbed. Rosario v. City of Union City Police Department, 263 F. Supp. 2d 874 (D.N.J. 2003). [N/R]
Federal appeals court rules that the law of the state of Georgia as to the standing of a parent of an adult child murdered to pursue wrongful death claims against those who caused the death is incorporated into federal law under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988, and that, pursuant to the Georgia Supreme Court's answer to the question the appeals court previously certified to it, the mother of a man murdered by his surviving spouse could pursue a federal civil rights claim for the death. Carringer v. Rodgers, #01-15258, 331 F.3d 844 (11th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Georgia Supreme Court holds that, under state law, a parent of an adult child murdered by his surviving spouse can pursue a wrongful death claim against the alleged murderer or against "other parties" that proximately caused the death, answering a question certified to it by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a case where the murdered son's mother asserted state wrongful death claims against the wife, a police chief, and the city. The claims against the city and police chief were based on the fact that the alleged murderer was a police captain who had previously attempted suicide. The police chief had ordered her to remove all weapons from her home, but did not relieve her of her duties, and she used her service revolver to shoot and kill her husband. Carringer v. Rodgers, No. SO2Q1483, 578 S.E.2d 841 (Ga. 2003). [N/R]
334:153 Officers were not liable for excessive force or wrongful death when they shot and killed an intoxicated man who had previously assaulted his wife; decedent had threatened to "kill" people and was pointing a gun at one of the officers at the time he was shot. Lee, Estate of, v. Spokane, No. 18347-5-III, 2 P.3d 979 (Wash. App. 2000)
323:172 Ex-officer not liable for failure to stop and investigate disabled truck from which female motorist was abducted and murdered or for later allegedly lying about when he first encountered the vehicle; link between his alleged misconduct and any loss that motorist's parents suffered was "too tenuous." Webb v. Haas, 728 A.2d 1261 (Me. 1999).
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