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Fatal California motorcycle accident leads to wrongful death suit

The widow of a fallen police officer has filed a wrongful death against two California cities and another police official, claiming that they are responsible for the death of her husband. The cities have already denied claims filed by the widow under a legal rule which she claims is inapplicable and outdated.

The fatal motorcycle accident took place last May, during the funeral procession of a California police officer who had died of cancer. The widow's husband, a 44-year-old motorcycle officer, was working as a funeral escort when suddenly, a police sergeant who had been assisting a vehicle that had accidentally cut into the procession, cut back into the line.

The sergeant struck the husband, causing his motorcycle to be thrown into oncoming traffic. The husband landed on a vehicle and suffered massive blunt force traumatic injuries, from which he later died.

Now, the widow has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of herself and her two sons against the city that was operating the procession, the sergeant who struck her husband, and the city that employed the sergeant. In the suit, the widow claims that the sergeant was unfit to operate a police motorcycle and that he was driving recklessly at the time of the crash. In addition, the suit claims, the city did not provide sufficient motorcycle training for the sergeant.

The cities have previously denied $25 million claims filed by the widow, citing the 'fireman's rule' which generally precludes any liability for emergency responders. The widow is fighting against that claim, arguing that this was not an emergency situation by any means, and that the cities are therefore liable for her husband's death.

Source: The Beach Reporter, "Officer's widow files wrongful death lawsuit," Carley Dryden, Mar. 21, 2012

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