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Sometimes what we really need is a man of the cloth: police chase goes to jury

Mary Ann Hennig sued the City of Troy and one of its officers after she suffered significant injuries in a car accident.  She was traveling on I-75 when she was rear-ended at high speed by a police vehicle involved in a chase.  The City appealed after the trial court refused to dismiss the claim; the City argued that the claim should be dismissed as a matter of law, but the trial judge said there were too many disputed facts to render judgment for the City and its officer.

The officer involved, Joseph Mairorano, admittedly owed a duty to innocent bystanders and that he and the City would be responsible if he conducted the chase in reckless disregard of the safety of other motorists.  He related an account of the incident that logically placed all of the blame on unidentified motorists whose unanticipated activities interfered with his safe, thoughtful and careful efforts to apprehend his suspect.  Usually this kind of testimony secures a dismissal for government employees.  Enter Father Jerome Singer of Nativity of Our Lord Church who gave a different account of the incident, however. 

Father Singer was present and witnessed the events and testified that Mairorano's conduct of the chase was conducted at an unreasonable speed, creating a grossly unsafe situation (and reducing Singer to anticipatory prayer).  Furhermore, Singer's testimony was supported by Ms. Hennig's reconstruction experts.  Given the "heaven-sent" support of a credible witness, the Court of Appeals agreed with Hennig's attorneys that it was for the jury to decide whether the chase was conducted in a negligent manner rendering the City responsible for Hennig's injuries.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262