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Crash caused by Georgia cop spurs wrongful death suit

The family of an elderly man who died while delivering newspapers has filed a wrongful death suit against the city of Varnell, Georgia, because the collision involved an on-duty police officer. The wrongful death claim was recently filed with the Whitfield County Superior Court, and the family is asking for $750,000 in monetary compensation.

According to local reports, a 70-year-old man was tragically killed earlier this year. At the time, not long after midnight, he was delivering newspapers from his vehicle, on a route along a local highway. Suddenly, police cruiser struck the man's vehicle. The impact of the collision caused him to be thrown from the vehicle, which burst into flames.

The lawsuit alleges that when the Varnell police officer struck the man's vehicle, the officer's car was traveling at a speed of more than 90 miles per hour. The marked speed limit for the stretch of road the officer was traveling on was 45 miles per hour. The lawsuit further claims that neither the sirens nor the blue lights of the officer's car were turned on, and that the officer was not responding to an emergency call at the time of the incident.

The officer was placed on administrative leave with pay following the accident, although he has since resigned from the department. Nonetheless, as the employer of the officer when the accident happened, the city of Varnell may be vicariously liable for the officer's actions.

At the same time, governmental bodies may be liable only up to a certain amount under Georgia law, which would be $750,000 in this instance. As the wrongful death claim now makes its way through the judicial system, the family will hopefully be able to find peace and justice for their untimely loss.

Robert Smalley of the law firm McCamy, Phillips, Tuggle & Fordham, LLP is representing the plaintiff.

Source: The Daily Citizen, "Family files wrongful death suit," Mark Millican, May 2, 2012

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