Friday, September 23, 2005

Call the Police and be Sued by Them

In a strange decision nullifying much of the protection of the "firemen's rule" (which prevents Firemen and Police from suing the person seeking help for injuries they receive while responding to assist that person.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a bar calling for police to help eject a drunk patron can be sued under the Dram Shop rule for injuries to the officers that are casued when they try to eject the person.

As the Detroit News in its article "Unwise ruling invites cops to sue citizens" correctly points out:
There are several practical problems with the ruling and the weakening of the firefighters rule. It creates an incentive for bar owners not to call the police to deal with dangerous patrons, which puts everyone else in the bar at risk. By limiting the firefighters rule, it invites more lawsuits that may make homeowners and other property owners liable to suit for calling the police or fire departments, which would make them hesitate to do so.
Even worse the Detroit news points out that this ruling
creates an unhealthy, uneven relationship between the people and their government. Under the governmental immunity rule, citizens are not allowed to sue the government for its mistakes, but now government employees can sue citizens for injuries the employees suffer in the course of their official duties. There's something wrong with this picture.

Exactly so. As the Detroit News recommends, the Michigan Supreme Court should reverse this flawed decision.

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