State Police officer can maintain gross negligence claim against Plymouth Township officer who shot him
Michael Lego and his wife sued Plymouth Township policeman Jake Liss, after Liss shot Lego during a drug arrest. Lego claimed that Liss should not enjoy governmental immunity for his actions, because his use of a firearm was grossly negligent and violated both Constitutional protections and guidelines, and also departmental procedures. Liss's attorneys argued that one cop being shot by another is a foreseeable risk of the job and that Liss's firing was not grossly negligent as a matter of law. Liss also argued that he should have the protection of the exclusive remedy provisions of the workers compensation act.
The trial judge held that Lego's complaint and evidence raised a triable question of fact and Liss appealed. The Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's ruling. It pointed out that the two officers did not work for the same employer or a joint venture, meaning the workers compensation act didn't come in to play. It also determined that being shot by a grossly negligent fellow officer is not a foreseeable risk of police work. The judges agreed that a jury should decide whether the shooting was, in fact, grossly negligent so as to avoid Liss's governmental immunity defense.