AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Public Protection: Hostages
New York intermediate
appellate court upholds award of $3 million for the pain and suffering
of a hostage shot and killed by police during an exchange of gunfire with
a bank robber. Court also upholds an award of $969,001 to the hostage's
brother for emotional distress in seeing his sister shot and killed. Court
orders further proceedings, however, on the possible apportionment of liability
between police and the bank robber. Police department guide and order on
deadly force and hostage situations were properly admitted into evidence
for purposes of showing whether officers deviated from them. Lubecki
v. City of New York, 758 N.Y.S.2d 610 (A.D. 1st Dept. 2003). [2004 LR Jan]
322:156 Jury awards $5.7 million to surviving family of woman taken hostage by bank robber and then shot and killed during shootout with police; lawsuit claimed it was negligent to return fire rather than to attempt to negotiate for hostage's release. Vargas v. City of New York, N.Y. Sup. Ct. (Manhattan), reported in The New York Times, National Edition, p. A20 (July 21, 1999).
316:61 City and officer were not liable for death of two girls and loss of house to fire when officer rushed into home to attempt to rescue children who were being held hostage by mother's former boyfriend; boyfriend threatened to ignite gasoline and officer had to act swiftly to attempt rescue; no inadequate training was shown to have caused tragedy. Smith v. City of Plantation, 19 F.Supp. 2d 1332 (S.D. Fla. 1998).
315:45 Estate of woman shot and killed accidentally by officer shooting at her husband, who was holding her hostage on the front porch of their home could not recover damages; officer's decision to shoot at armed man did not "shock the conscience." Schaefer v. Goch, #98- 1031, 153 F.3d 793 (7th Cir. 1998).
298:156 California appeals court rules that officers had a duty of reasonable care to mother whose children were being held at gunpoint by her ex-husband once police took exclusive control of scene and of negotiating release of children; officers and city could be liable for death of children shot by ex-husband after he was given a ten minute ultimatum; $175,000 settlement reached in case Souza v. City of Antioch, 62 Cal.Rptr.2d 909, 1997 Cal App. Lexis 344.
Court expresses doubt on recovery from law enforcement officials over hostage's shooting Taylor v. Watters, 636 F.Supp. 181 (E.D. Mich 1986).
69:11 Louisiana Court of Appeals upholds a wrongful death suit against the sheriff for the wrongful death of a hostage taken by escaping holdup men, who was killed in an exchange of gunfire between sheriff's deputies and the fleeing felons. The plaintiff's allegations that sheriff's deputies were negligent in (1). failing to engage in proper police practices; (2). negligently engaging in close pursuit and thus placing the decedent's life in jeopardy; and (3). failing to retreat, stated a cause of action against the sheriff. Michel v. Hometown Markets, 352 So.2d 357, 1977 La. App. Lexis 3926, 60 A.L.R.2d 873
Article: "The Terrorist Act of Hostage-Taking: Considerations for Law Enforcement," 6 J. of Pol. Sci. & Ad. 1 (1978).
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