Monday, November 20, 2006

Nebraska Court of Appeals agrees with District Court that suicidal motorist's victim in fatal collision had no case against the Lincoln Police Department whose officer had earlier briefly detained the suicidal motoristPoppe v. City of Lincoln, 15 Neb. App. 164 Filed November 14, 2006. No. A-05-289. Suicidal motorist drove the wrong way on interstate 80 colliding with the deceased driver Barbara Poppe, killing Barbara. Earlier a Lincoln Police Department office had stopped Robin Siefker, on warnings that he was suicidal. Police let him go and he proceeded to kill himself by driving the wrong way on the interstate. Barbara's estate sued the City of Lincoln for failing to stop and take Siefker into custody. Nebraska court of appeals upholds District Court's 12b6 dismissal because the complaint did not state a duty the Defendant's officer breached toward the deceased. appellant alleged that the police officer stopped Siefker's vehicle but failed to identify and detain Siefker. The allegations of the complaint imply that the officer was negligent because he failed to "take charge" of Siefker. However, under § 319 (Restatement of Torts) no duty arises from failing to take charge of the third person; rather, the duty to exercise reasonable care to control the third person to prevent harm to another arises only after one has taken charge of the third person. Thus, § 319 requires that we determine whether the traffic stop and brief detention constituted "taking charge" of Siefker.We conclude that the police officer's temporary stop of Siefker did not create a custodial relationship which imposed a duty on the officer to control Siefker's subsequent behavior

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