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Tort Claims Act does not grant immunity for reckless conduct

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held the Tort Claims Act does not grant immunity to law enforcement officers who fail to exercise reasonable care while driving.

In City of Indianapolis v. Rhodora Earl, No. 49A02-1102-PL-89, Rhodora Earl was seriously injured when a high-speed police pursuit ended with the suspect crashing into her car. Earl sued the city for her injuries, and in her amended complaint, she alleged the city was liable for her injuries because Indianapolis Police Officer Shannon Harmon continued chasing the suspect without regard to the safety of other drivers or pedestrians in a high-traffic area.

The city appealed the trial court’s denial of its motion for summary judgment, citing the law enforcement provision of Indiana’s Tort Claims Act. The COA held that while the law enforcement provision does grant immunity for certain actions that occur in the line of duty, an officer still has an obligation to exercise sound judgment.

Citing the Indiana Supreme Court opinion in Patrick v. Miresso, 848 N.E.2d 1083, 1084 (Ind. 2006), the appellate court wrote that a governmental unit and its police officer are not immune from liability for injuries caused by the officer’s negligent operation of a police vehicle while pursuing a fleeing suspect. It therefore affirmed the decision of the trial court.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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