Passenger injured in police chase could not establish recklessness says 9th Court of Appeals

 

Amanda Lafferty v. Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, 09-13-00039-CV (Tex. App. – Beaumont, November 21, 2013).

This is a police chase/motor vehicle accident case where Lafferty, a passenger, alleges she was injured when ejected after the four-wheeler she was riding on was struck by a Sheriff’s deputy. The County filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted.

The court did a detailed rendition of the undisputed facts and evidence which revealed essentially that the police tried to pull over the four-wheeler which was traveling at night without lights when the driver attempted to evade arrest.  The evidence recounting the chase depicted numerous dangerous actions of the driver putting the public at risk, as well as some separate violations such as throwing beer cans at chasing police while driving through a drainage ditch.  The chase ended when the four-wheeler made an unexpected and hard stop and was struck from behind by the nearest sheriff’s deputy.  The court determined the sheriff’s department was responding to an emergency situation and was immune absent a showing of recklessness. The court examined the types of things pursuing law enforcement were permitted to do in such an emergency situation such as exceeding the speed limit.  Lafferty failed to provide any evidence of recklessness and the summary judgment was affirmed.

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