Skip to comments.Driver says her accident deputy's fault(your not going to believe this lawsuit)
Posted on 08/08/2005 1:35:01 AM PDT by freepatriot32
OLYMPIA Three years after getting drunk, blowing through a stop sign and triggering a wreck that left her passenger critically injured, a former Idaho resident has filed a $1.5 million claim against Washington's Pend Oreille County for not detaining her before she caused the crash.
In her claim, Ashlen Lee says that on June 12, 2002, a county sheriff's deputy stopped her truck around 3:30 a.m. and could see that she had been drinking. But after quizzing her, the deputy let the 17-year-old drive away.
The officer said he'd give them a warning," said Lee's attorney, W. Russell Van Camp of Spokane. He said neither young woman was wearing a seat belt.
"Good Lord almighty," the attorney said. "Some kids in a pickup, drinking, and he knew they were drinking? At that hour in the morning? That's reckless endangerment of the public."
Less than an hour after talking with the deputy, Lee blew through a stop sign on Fourth Street, in Oldtown, Idaho. As she crossed Idaho's State Route 41, her Isuzu pickup was struck by a Ford pickup driven by 55-year-old Ronald Barton of Athol. The Isuzu crashed in a ditch.
Lee's passenger, 18-year-old Shaleena Threlkeld, was rushed in critical condition to Spokane's Sacred Heart Medical Center. Lee was also taken to the hospital, where she was treated and released. According to the Idaho State Police report, her blood-alcohol content was .11, well over the .08 level that's considered drunken driving.
Lee is now seeking $1.5 million from the county for "pain, suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses and wage loss," according to the claim. Van Camp said that Lee has permanent scarring on her face, as well as neck and back injuries.
"Horrendous injuries," Van Camp said.
While acknowledging that the deputy should have stopped Lee from driving, Pend Oreille County Sheriff Jerry Weeks called the suit, "part of the American blame game. People don't want to accept responsibility for their actions, but hey, these guys (the county) have money, so let's go after them and blame them.
"We didn't give her the booze. Her parents gave her the car," he said. "When does the blame stop?"
Van Camp said the deputy showed "egregious and unfortunate negligence."
He acknowledged, though, that Lee had been drinking in the truck, and that she caused the accident.
"So she deserved what she got? No, no, no," he said. "We have the police to protect all of us, even young children who are making stupid mistakes. If she was running down the middle of the street, he should have stopped her. The police officer has the duty to protect the public, even from themselves."
Efforts to contact Lee, who now lives in Puyallup, Wash., were unsuccessful.
Weeks confirmed that a deputy had, in fact, stopped Lee's vehicle, spoken with her, and let her drive off.
The case started with a complaint about a noisy party at a local house, he said. A dispatcher woke up the deputy at home and sent him to check on the disturbance.
Among the partiers, the deputy found a youth with an outstanding arrest warrant. He took the boy into custody, but when placed in the back of the police car, the boy started kicking out the windows.
Around the same time, the deputy talked to Lee and Threlkeld.
"It's not disputed that they had been drinking. He was aware of it," said Weeks, who would not name the deputy. "I'm not going to make any excuses for him. But there were some mitigating circumstances."
The deputy who still works for the department should have detained Lee and Threlkeld as well, and called their parents, Weeks said. In fact, deputies had been trained on minor-in-possession situations just a few weeks before, he said.
The deputy was disciplined, he said, although he wouldn't elaborate. Also, he said, "this deputy's had to live with that personal consequence (the crash) ever since."
Weeks said that the county has already paid a related claim made by Threlkeld, although he wouldn't say how much was paid. Van Camp said the amount paid out was more than $1 million.
Threlkeld could not be reached for comment.
Hmmm, any guesses as to what the "W" stands for?
Very quizzical that either one would get a red cent from the county unless it was to head off an even more expensive to defend court battle. The Screams have already said that we cannot expect zip from the kopz.
W. Russell Van Camp of Spokane should be removed from the Bar or shot or both. He is definitely in the running for the ACLU lawyer of the year
Totally believable from Washington State!....Home of the giant statue of Lenin in Fremont!.....
A Lenin statue? Oh, Wow! Something to blow up! :-)
well... considering that some states hold bars responsible for the same kind of thing, she might be able to pull this suit off.
I think they should post a deputy at her home 100% of the time to bird-dog her 24/7 to ensure she doesn't get into any more trouble. If shes buys french fries, he needs to know them out of her hand; if she lights up a smoke, he needs to slap it out of her mouth, if she tries to have unprotected sex, he needs to run the guy off at gunpoint. Eventually, she might discover the magnitude of what she is claiming the police should do for her.
Somebody tried a suit like this in GA years ago - was slapped down with derision by the court of appeals.
IANAL but I don't think the cops are legally obliged to act in any specific situation.
I believe there is also an issue of legal liability for the owner of the house, but you don't read about that, either. Why not sue them? Why not sue this girl's parents, since she was a minor and they're responsible for her? Oh, that's right, just sue the police. What a disgrace. This girl ought to be grateful that no one was killed.
This is great, America. Just keep forcing the nanny state to protect us from ourselves. How long until we have to ask Washington permission to take a day off from work or to go to the restroom?
Maybe we should start suing people like Miss Lee for eroding our rights, wasting taxpayer money, and for damages done to society because she is just plain stupid.
She's going to win too.
What about countersuing her parents for failure to control?
When my daughter was acting totally dysfunctional, I was aware of at least one similar incident. No one was hurt but I was furious with the cop. I do think he had some culpability. Cops want to be buddies of the young folks so maybe that's the motive but the other motive is that it takes a long time to process a juvenile. If it's close to the end of a shift, the cop is not going to want to have anything to do with it. I think this guy should at least lose his job.
If she was indeed officially "warned" it is almost every single department in the conus's policy to issue a warning ticket. Every stop, regardless of how small, that a LEO calls in a plate number, 29/29 wants and warrants is run, a minimum of a field interview with license data etc is recorded.
Do they have that on record ?
There should be something documenting the stop and disposition, even if only a log entry. Always a bad idea to have someone drive off in a questionable state. I was taught if ya wanna give someone a break, then get them a ride home or make sure they can't find their keys (known a couple officers who would throw the keys in the ditch - not my style but it worked).
I presume that, if the officer had decided to arrest the driver, and she put up any kind of a fight and got hurt, then the parents would have been completely understanding, thankful and supporting. And there certainly would have been no talk at all of "false arrest." (OK, sarcasm off)
Not according to the US Supreme Court.
This is one of those situations where it would have been prudent to take the kid home if DUI wasn't the route to take here. We actually have an SOP for this regarding minors. Arrest isn't mandatory but at a minimum I would have lost some pay if I did the same thing. Who hasn't been bit on the a$$ at least once when trying to give someone a break?
Also under Washington law, the deputy created a 'special relationship' with the drunk driver when he stopped her and realized she was drunk. Under Washington law, she actually does have a cause of action. Obviously no law can take into account all the possibilities that might arise under the law.
If she has a case, a jury might very find in her favor; and make a very, very small award of maybe around one dollar.
Some folks just seem to have their head up the wrong end of the gift horse in such situations. A DUI these days can cost up to 16K minimum when all is said and done and that is just the cash aspect. Then theres the employer, friends, family, and neighbors etc.....or death or severe injuries as in this case.
But parents should be sure to sue the LEO that trys to give their little "Gotti like Wiggers" a break .....I didn't, I don't and I wont.
Risk managers and supervisors these days don't look kindly at the Andy Griffin style of policing. SOP is there for a reason and after seeing too many of my other deputies get fired or time off it wasn't even a second thought to not follow it in each and every case.
I live in this neck of the woods so before everyone crucifies this cop, you need a little background on Old Town ID, and the cops around here. This is not LA or KC or NYC. It is a sparsely populated are of North Idaho.
This cop was awakened from his slumber and out of his duty to the public went to see if he could appease the situation. He was not on duty. Chances are that late at night it is very hard to get a hold of the Sheriff's department short of a 911 call. Old Town ID, and Newport WA, are pretty much the same little town. There are very few deputies period, never mind it is 3 o'clock in the morning! Jusisdiction overlaps from the two states. Chances are he knew the girl and her parents and in his opinion she was not impaired enough she couldn't drive. I am certain he told her in no uncertain terms to get her little butt home. The only reason he let her go was because he had another little hellion in the back of his car, who was doing his best to tear up the car. It was likely next to impossible to get backup, at that time of the morning, so in his judgment he needed to get the other little angel to detention before he hurt himself trying to destroy the cop car. If the teen in the car had gotten himself hurt they would string this officer up by his toenails.
It is also more than likely this girl did not do what the officer advised and continued running around an partying, consuming more alcohol until she was impaired. The fact this officer was not fired goes a long way to explaining what happened that night.
Old Town has a population of less than 1000 residents. It is a very small rural community. Everyone knows everyone else. Was it bad judgment? Of course, given what occurred. Should this little bit@h and her parents be holding the officer and the sheriff responsible? Hardly!