The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal recently ruled on the duty of law enforcement and the potential for tort liability should that duty be breached. In Aaron L. Van Cleave and Christy Van Cleave v. Arthur Wayne Temple, et. al., 2018 CA 1353 (La. App. 1 Cir. 5/31/19), the appellate court considered the duty of law enforcement to the general public after the police receive a report of erratic driving.
Arthur Wayne Temple was driving a 2006 Ford F-250 truck in St. Helena Parish when he crossed the center line of Louisiana Highway 16 and struck a truck driven by Allen Marchand. Aaron Van Cleave was a passenger injured in the accident.
About an hour before the collision, June Blades was driving behind Temple, observed erratic driving, and called the police. In response, a sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to the area but could not locate the truck. Van Cleave sued a number of potentially liable parties. Aware that the police knew of the erratic driving before the accident, he included the sheriff’s department as a defendant. He argued that the sheriff’s department possessed a duty to locate the erratic driver before they cause harm.
Louisiana jurisprudence recognizes that the police have an affirmative duty to ensure that motorists are not subjected to an unreasonable risk of harm. But, the scope of that duty is based on the particular facts of the case and the relationships of the parties; and must be reasonable. In this case, the court found that the sheriff’s department acted reasonably by immediately dispatching an officer to attempt to locate the truck, even if they were unable to ultimately stop the accident.
Virginia “Jenny” McLin has experience handling cases from the initial client consultation to preparing a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. Her experience allows her to work with clients to develop a cost-effective litigation plan for each case. Recently, Jenny was on the defense team that prevailed in a workers’ compensation case involving a discovery-related issue that was upheld on appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court. This had a state-wide effect on the handling of discovery in workers’ compensation matters.