LOUISVILLE, KY - The Louisville Metro Government is denying financial responsibility for unspecified damages requested by the family of a victim killed by an off-duty police officer driving a city vehicle, according to The Courier-Journal.
On Oct. 7, 2006, Louisville Metro Police Officer Kenten Measle was allegedly speeding in his take-home patrol vehicle when he swerved into an emergency lane, striking and killing the victim, Donnie Puente, a father putting gas into a friend's stranded vehicle. Measle was reportedly driving about 68 mph in a 55 mph zone, according to the Journal.
City lawyers argue the Louisville Metro Government shouldn't be responsible for the estimated $2 million in unspecified damages the victim's family is suing since Measle was off-duty, reported the Journal.
The city has filed a motion asking Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw to absolve it of any financial responsibility that could come from the fatal wreck, outside of a $100,000 insurance policy the city has for all officers driving in their take-home cruisers. A ruling is expected soon.
The central argument of the case, which could be precedent setting in Kentucky, revolves around the question of who is financially responsible for Measle's actions while he was in a patrol car involved in a fatal wreck - the officer or the city that hired him. In addition, the broader issue was raised of when police officers are considered on- and off-duty while in a patrol vehicle.
Attorneys for Puente's family and estate have called the city's defense a "novel proposition" that isn't supported by any legal precedent in Kentucky, where, they say the law is clear that workers are on duty if they are in a company car driving to or from work and providing a benefit to the business, reported the Journal.
However, Metro Government lawyers argue that Measle was not at work or being paid at the time of the wreck, so the city can't be held financially responsible for his actions.