AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability
of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel


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Police Plaintiffs: Training Injuries

     Monthly Law Journal Article: Legal Aspects of Training Injuries -- Part One, 2007 (8) AELE Mo. L. J. 201.
     Monthly Law Journal Article: Legal Aspects of Training Injuries -- Part Two, 2007 (9) AELE Mo. L. J. 201.

     The Washington State Patrol appealed a trial court's denial of its motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by a trooper for alleged deliberately intentional infliction of "certain injury" from being shot with a Taser in the dart mode during training. An intermediate state appeals court, finding that the plaintiff had presented a genuine issue of material fact on his claim that the defendant intentionally inflicted "certain injury," upheld the denial of summary judgment and remanded the case for trial. The Taser exposure caused the plaintiff instant temporary pain, discomfort, trouble breathing, and incapacitation. He was later diagnosed with a fracture in his vertebrae and a "bulged disc." The court said that the description, by the person responsible for developing the training program, of the Taser's "most typical effect's, together with the Taser manufacturer's warning that Taser probes cause "wounds," were sufficient evidence of "certain injury" to create a material issue of fact as to that claim allowing a lawsuit despite the providing of workers' compensation benefits. Under state law, workers' compensation immunity from an injury lawsuit does not apply if an employer knows of and willfully disregarded certain injury. This exception does not depend, the court ruled, on the severity of the initial injury that an employer deliberately causes in disregard of its knowledge that its action will always produce this "certain injury." Whether the defendant willfully disregarded that injury would occur was a question of fact for the factfinder. Taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the evidence submitted could be interpreted as showing that the employer knew that the mandatory Taser training would certainly cause the injuries of the probes inflicting wounds and the exposure to an electrical current, yet disregarded this by still requiring the training. Michelbrink v. Wash. State Patrol, #44035-1-II, 2014 Wash. App. Lexis 973.
     A deputy sheriff suffered vertebral compression fractures during a training exercise in which he was voluntarily exposed to an ECW. He sued TASER International alleging the firm had failed to adequately warn him of the risk of compression fractures. The District Court found, as a matter of law, the warnings were adequate. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the manufacturer's warning regarding potential vertebral fractures was accurate, clear, consistent, and sufficiently forceful. Kandt v. Taser Int'l, Inc., #12-3041-cv, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 11143, 2013 WL 2395999 (2nd Cir.). For more on the facts of the case, see the prior decision Kandt v. Taser Int'l, Inc., #5:09-CV-0507, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 96024 (N.D.N.Y.).
     A state trooper sued the manufacturer of a Taser, claiming that it had failed to provide warnings of an alleged risk that exposure to it could cause fractures, resulting in him suffering a fractured spine during a training exercise. A trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding expert witness testimony by the trooper's treating physician that his injury was caused by exposure to the Taser. The doctor's opinion regarding the cause of the injury was "unreliable" because a spinal compression fracture is not the type of injury that ordinarily results from a Taser shock, and the doctor did not show that his opinion that such a shock could cause this kind of injury was testable. In the absence of admissible expert medical witness testimony on causation, the defendant manufacturer was entitled to summary judgment. Wilson v. Taser International, Inc., No. 08-13810, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 25252 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
     City of New York was not entitled to dismissal of police officer's lawsuit claiming that she suffered injuries during a training seminar when she claimed that she was not given necessary safety equipment to protect her from recognized hazards of the exercise in which she was asked to participate. Singleton v. City of New York, No. 9640/06, 2006 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 2928 (Sup., Kings County). [N/R]
     Police officer who suffered eye injury during "live fire" training exercise could not recover damages on the basis of alleged violation of his civil rights because of the police chief's decision to order officers to wear their riot helmets during the exercise, instead of specially designed face masks. Moore v. Guthrie, No. 04-1435, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 4171 (10th Cir.). [2006 LR Apr]
     Deputy sheriff was acting within the scope of his employment when he injured fellow deputy's knee during practice of a "common Peroneal" maneuver in a training class. Sheriff was therefore vicariously liable for the injury. Court finds $150,000 was appropriate damage award for deputy who required major reconstructive knee surgery, but was able to resume his duties. Court also upholds $25,000 award to deputy's wife for loss of consortium, when she was on bed rest while pregnant when deputy was unable to help with many household chores since he was on crutches and had limited mobility. Albert v. Farm Bureau Insurance Company, No. CA. 05-352, 916 So. 2d 1238 (La. App. 3d Cir. 2005). [N/R]
     Enrollee in community college class intended as police training could not recover damages for injuries suffered during role playing takedown maneuver exercises on the basis of alleged negligence by the college and its instructors. As the risk of injury was inherent in the nature of the exercises and "obvious," he assumed the risk of injury and could not recover damages in the absence of intentional injury or reckless conduct. Saville v. Sierra College, No C047923, 2005 Cal. App. Lexis 1660 (Cal. App.). [2005 LR Dec]
     Neither District of Columbia nor physicians at police medical clinic were liable for injuries officer allegedly suffered during "attack exercise" utilizing baton, which was part of his training. Feirson v. District of Columbia, No. CIV.A. 01-0905, 362 F. Supp. 2d 244 (D.D.C. 2005). [N/R]
     Police officer was not acting within the scope of his employment when he allegedly injured a deputy sheriff at a defensive tactics training program by placing him in a neck restraint, causing him to fall. He was therefore not entitled to defense and indemnification by the county which employed him in a personal injury lawsuit filed against him by the deputy. Riehle v. County of Cattaraugus, 794 N.Y.S.2d 186 (A.D. 4th Dept. 2005). [N/R]
     Officer's claims for personal injuries she suffered while participating in a certified training course were barred, in California, under firefighter's rule and her assumption of the risk that she would be injured. Hamilton v. Martinelli & Assoc., #E031683, 110 Cal.App.4th 1012, 2 Cal.Rptr.3d 168, 2003 Cal. App. Lexis 1114 (4th App. Dist. 2003). [2004 LR May]
     Operation of a police training school by a village was a "proprietary function" imposing the same duty of care and same liability as a private individual or institution would have had while engaging in the same activity. Municipality, school, and school personnel, including director and commanding officer were not entitled to governmental immunity under New York law from liability for trainee's injuries during firearms training exercise. Lemery v. Village of Cambridge, 736 N.Y.S.2d 503 (A.D. 2002). [2002 LR May]
     Police officer could not bring common law negligence lawsuit against employing city based on injuries he suffered during a motorcycle training course, since he was performing his official duties at the time and received salary and medical benefits under the General Municipal Law Sec. 207-c. Brady v. City of New Rochelle, 744 N.Y.S. 2d 494 (A.D. 2002). [N/R]
     306:90 City and officer who allegedly hit another officer during baton training exercise, resulting in disabling injury, liable for $2.35 million in damages; suit claimed negligent supervision by city. Hamilton v. City of Brawley, Cal. Imperial County Super. Ct., No. 84701, Nov. 24, 1997, 41 ATLA L. Rptr. 94 (April 1998).

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