I have a case where a felon in police chase caused wreck injuring bystander client. Could a federal civil rights claim be rightly brought against the department and/or the involved officers?
Answer: I'm afraid not. See: County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 118 S.Ct. 1708, 140 L.Ed.2d 1043 (1998): "Parents of motorcycle passenger killed in high-speed police chase of motorcyclist brought § 1983 claim against county, sheriff's department, and deputy, alleging deprivation of passenger's substantive due process right to life. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Garland E. Burrell, Jr., J., granted summary judgment for defendants, and the Court of Appeals, Pregerson, J., 98 F.3d 434, reversed as to deputy. On writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court, Justice Souter, held that: (1) Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard did not apply; (2) high-speed police chases with no intent to harm suspects physically do not give rise to liability under Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) allegation that pursuit was undertaken with deliberate indifference to passenger's survival was insufficient to state substantive due process claim."
You may, however, have a shot at a tort claim act case. See: State ex rel Oklahoma Dept. Of Public Safety v. Gurich, 2010 OK 56, 238 P.3d 1: Standard for whether highway patrolman breached duty to others on road is "reckless disregard for the safety of others.
Thu, December 22, 2011
by Sharon Coleman filed under