1. #1
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    Default Mississippi Supreme Court Ruling

    FYI- important ruling in Taco Bell case.

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Supreme Court has followed
    the lead of others states in ruling that injured police officers
    and firefighters can't sue people whose negligence put them in
    harm's way in the first place.
    The ruling came Thursday in the dismissal of a lawsuit brought
    by a Picayune police officer injured while trying to break up a
    fight at a Taco Bell in 1996.
    Justice William Waller Jr., writing in Thursday's decision, said
    dealing with other people's negligence is part of the job for
    public safety workers and they receive compensation and benefits
    for the risks inherent in such responses.
    On May 28, 1996, Officer Shelton W. Farmer responded to a
    disturbance call at the Taco Bell in Picayune. Upon entering the
    restaurant, Farmer encountered a fight between Clayton S. Brunson
    II and Daniel T. Magee, a Taco Bell employee. While trying to break
    up the fight, Farmer was kicked by Brunson and suffered a severe
    knee injury.
    Farmer sued Taco Bell, its local owners and Brunson's father.
    Pearl River County Circuit Judge Michael Eubanks dismissed the
    lawsuit in 2000 based on the so-called firefighter's rule used in
    other states.
    Since the issue had not been raised in Mississippi before, it
    was up to the Mississippi Supreme Court to decide whether to apply
    the doctrine here.
    In effect, the Mississippi court said police and firefighters
    are employed by government as insurance for the negligence of its
    citizens, and allowing them to also collect damages asks taxpayers
    to pay again for services the community has collectively purchased.
    Negligence is a common factor in emergencies that require the
    intervention of public safety officers, the court said.
    Nearly all the courts across the nation that have considered the
    issue have adopted the firefighter's rule.
    Waller said the rule in Mississippi would follow one adopted in
    Wisconsin that states that public policy bars recovery when an
    injury is sustained as a result of a negligent act that
    necessitated rescue. However, he said the rule would allow a
    lawsuit when some other negligent act causes injury.
    Presiding Justice Chuck McRae, in a dissenting opinion, said
    while it is true that firefighters and police officers serve for
    the benefit of society, such service should not be to their
    personal detriment.
    "By adopting the firefighter's rule, the majority cheapens the
    importance of the duties carried out by our firefighters and police
    officers. This rule has the effect of punishing firefighters and
    police officers by depriving them of a right guaranteed in our
    Constitution.
    "The Constitution does not make an exception for firefighters
    and police officers in the line of duty; therefore, they should
    have the same rights to sue as any other citizen," McRae wrote.
    Rankin County Sheriff Ken Dickerson, president of the
    Mississippi Sheriff's Association, said he had not seen the high
    court ruling, but "if it is actually a case of negligence, I don't
    think a police officer or a firefighter should be discriminated
    against in filing a negligence suit."
    "It would certainly have to be an actual case of negligence if
    you bring suit against anybody," Dickerson said.


    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press
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    Unhappy Things to make you go hmmmm.........

    This is a heck of a situation. Almost every incident can be traced back to someone doing some thing wrong. But does it constitute negligence???? I think that should be decided by the court in a case by case manner. Not an arbitrary decision.
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  3. #3
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    Farmer sued Taco Bell, its local owners and Brunson's father.
    A little overboard maybe? 2 guys in a fight and the cop sues Taco Bell? I'm sure the little chiuahah (sp?) had a lot to do with what happened there. After all, if Taco Bell did not place a store there, the fight could not have happened there. But I would have to agree with 1835Wayne, decision on a case by case manner.

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    Curious situation. I agree that trying to sue Taco Bell et all wasn't the way to go. The individuals involved perhaps, but not the parent company. I also agree that such events should be heard case by case, rather than by a blanket statement.

    George Wendt, your comments and thoughts would be appreciated - your our resident law expert - what's your take on this one? Are we running with the wrong end of the hose here?
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Malahat Two-7
    George Wendt, your comments and thoughts would be appreciated
    Hmmm, I wonder where George Wendt? Haven't seen any trace of him for days.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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    I believe George is in Southern Ocean County teaching a class today.

  7. #7
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    The MS decision is the Common Law majority rule and has been for 200 years. When Workman's Comp or equivalent was passed it sealed the fate of the rule. Don't look for it to change in our lifetimes. I hope George is teaching some So. Jersey investigators about spoilation of evidence in fire and explosion cases in Atlantic County.
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