It is common knowledge that when a person causes harm, he or she may be held liable for any damages sustained by the injured party. There are certain exceptions to this rule, however, such as when the person that causes the harm is employed by the government. In such cases, the Tort Claims Act may preclude liability against the person as an individual. The implications of the Tort Claims Act was recently analyzed by the Supreme Court of Texas, in a case in which an individual was killed by an off duty police officer. If you suffered harm due to the negligent acts of a government employee, you should consult a knowledgeable Texas personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking damages.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant, who was employed as an officer with a Texas police department, worked as a courtesy patrol officer at an apartment complex. Upon arrival at the apartment complex one evening, he noticed an individual in a car allegedly engaged in a crime. The defendant approached the car and identified himself as a police officer and asked the individual to step out of the car. The individual ignored the defendant and started to drive away. The defendant drew his weapon and fired shots at the vehicle. One of the shots hit the individual, who ultimately died from his injuries.
It is alleged that the individual’s estate sued the defendant in state court, alleging he was an employee of the apartment complex, and in federal court, alleging he was acting under color of state law and accordance with his police training. Following discovery in the state case, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on the election of remedies provision of the Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appealed.
Continue reading →