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Families of two first responders are entitled to jury trial on issue of gross negligence in operation of county vehicle

In Estate of Max Leroy Young v. Pierce, the Court was presented with two wrongful death claims brought by the families of two men killed when a first responder drove recklessly to an emergency dispatch.  The driver of the emergency vehicle argued that because he was responding to an emergency, he enjoyed a right of way that made his actions only "negligent" and not "grossly negligent"--which is the threshold to hold a government actor accountable.

The trial judge took note of the conflicting testimony, and in particular that witness reports suggested that the driver was traveling 80 miles per hour 30 seconds before running a stop sign without an audible siren; based on this testimony, the judge rejected the defendant's motion for summary disposition.  The defendant appealed, but the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision and sent the case back for trial on the merits and a decision by the jury.

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