In the case of Sauers v. Borough of Nesquehoning, No. 3:16-CV-00811-JPW (M.D. Pa. Sept. 21, 2020 Wilson, J.), the court granted a borough’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in a Plaintiff’s state law wrongful death, survival and vicarious liability action in this Section 1983 civil rights claim arising out of a police officer’s crashing into the Plaintiff’s car while involved in a high speed pursuant.
The court found that the borough was immune from liability pursuant to the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act because of the officer’s alleged criminal behavior. The borough had argued that the officer committed crimes during the high speed pursuit and, as such, the borough could not be held vicariously liable for the officer’s criminal behavior. The court agreed and noted that the officer pled guilty to homicide by vehicle, recklessly endangering another person, driving on the right side of roadways, and careless driving.
The court found that the language of the applicable statute was clear and unambiguous and required the court to hold that acts or conduct which constitutes a crime were not “negligent acts” under the statute and that, therefore, governmental immunity protected the borough from any liability.
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Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Oct. 8, 2020).