GREENE V. CITY OF GREENVILLE
June 9, 2014
On January 15, 2013, the Court of Appeals held that a Town was not liable for the actions of its police officer in speeding, which caused the death of another motorist. In this case, the officer was following a car, suspected of emitting an odor of marijuana. The officer was traveling at 75 miles per hour, and had not engaged his lights or siren. He suddenly saw a car in front of him (making a right turn), and he veered to the left, slowing ato 50 miles per hour. He then collided with another vehicle in the oncoming lane, resulting in the death of a person in the other vehicle.
The Estate sued the City, alleging that the officer was negligent in pursuing the suspect at high speeds. The Court of Appeals ruled that, pursuant to statute (20-145), police officers are exempt from speed restrictions while in pursuit. The officer is liable only if he engages in "wanton conduct done with conscious or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others." The court ruled that under all of the circumstanes, the officer was, as a matter of law not grossly negligent under this standard. The case of Greene v. Greenville illustrates the difficult of suing a police officer (or Town) for negligence arising from a high speed chase.
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