SW Legal studies in Business

Police Have Qualified Immunity Against Negligence Actions
Description

Appeals court held that a person injured by an officer who was involved in a high-speed chase had no cause of action against the police as qualified immunity applies unless there was an intent to do harm.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Due Process; Qualified Immunity

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Las Vegas police officers attempted to pull over a stolen car. The driver took off. The chase took an hour and covered 90 miles involving a dozen police cars and a helicopter. He was eventually caught. One officer, Prunchak, joined the chase and was going about 100 mph when the his car slipped into another lane and sideswiped Bingue’s car, causing both to spin out of control and go off the road. Bingue sued Prunchak, the Las Vegas police department and others for negligence and for violating due process. Prunchak moved to have the suit dismissed, but the trial court refused. He appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. Police officers involved in high-speed chases are entitled to qualified immunity unless a plaintiff can prove that the officer acted with a deliberate intent to harm. Bingue’s claim of a violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution fails, as this is a local law enforcement matter. The argument that this violates the due process clause of the Constitution under the Fourteenth Amendment also fails. There was no evidence that the officer had any intent to inflict any injury on Bingue, so the officer could not violate due process.

Citation

Bingue v. Prunchak, 512 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir., 2008)

Back to Torts Listings

©1997-2008  South-Western Legal Studies in Business. All Rights Reserved.