Michigan Police Face $50M Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Michigan police face a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit after a judge approved revisions to the filing. Originally, the family was seeking $30 million, but as part of the revisions, that amount has been upped to $50 million.
Two police officers are accused of allowing Desten Houge to drive away from the scene of an accident. Houge proceeded to cause another accident. He was killed, but a second victim, Lake Jacobson, was taken to the hospital where he died six days later. The family believes that the police officers are responsible for the accident as the allowed Houge to drive himself home after causing the first accident. The family has filed a wrongful death naming the two officers and a tow truck driver who were at the scene of the first accident. The second accident that claimed two lives occurred along the same stretch of road about an hour later.
What Did Police Do at the Scene of the First Accident?
Houge lost control of his vehicle and drove it into a ditch. Police officers at the scene encountered a visibly drunken Houge who fell once into the snow and was helped up by one of the officers. The tow truck driver helped Houge extract his vehicle from the ditch and then the police officers allowed him to drive the vehicle back home.
Attorneys for the family say that Houge was a threat to himself and others but was effectively neutralized once his vehicle entered the ditch. The police officers then revived the threat by helping Houge out of the ditch and then allowing him to drive his car. He then lost his own life and took another life with him.
The police officers maintain that there were “no signs of intoxication” and expressed surprise over the fact that Houge’s autopsy revealed that he had a BAC was three times the legal limit (.24). Police also found evidence that there was marijuana in his bloodstream.
Earlier this month, a judge denied the defendant’s request to dismiss the case and instead authorized adding $20 million to the $30 million that the family was seeking raising the potential verdict amount to $50 million.
There are still some hurdles that the family will face. The courts have long upheld the immunity of police officers from being compelled to do anything. This means that the police officers may not be able to be held liable in civil court for allowing the drunk Houge to drive away with his vehicle after it had left the road.
While the case against the police officers may seem damning, it is not unusual for cars to find their way into ditches during Michigan winters.
Talk to a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, the Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys at Gillette Law can file a lawsuit on your behalf and recover damages related to your injuries. Call today to schedule a free consultation.