Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Police Manhunts and Ensuing Litigation

For better or worse, we live in a wildly litigious society. On one hand, the U.S. tendency seems to be to seek redress in court rather than through personal vendetta. On the other hand, folks seem to sue for everything under the sun. How Stuff Works has an article about the ten biggest manhunts of all time. Number four on the list is a recent one: former police officer Chris Dorner is alleged to have murdered a police officer and attempted to do the same for various other individuals. A manhunt ensued.

The manhunt is believed to have been predicated by Dorner's lawsuit for wrongful termination after he was fired from the police force for lying about an on-the-job incident.

In the wake of the manhunt, more lawsuits have been proposed and pursued:

Attorney for man carjacked by Christopher Dorner threatens lawsuit claiming full $1 million reward
Rick Heltebrake, Camp Ranger, Files Lawsuit For $1 Million Christopher Dorner Reward

Slain ‘Cop Killer’ Christopher Dorner’s Mom Being Urged To Sue LAPD Over Son’s Death

Dorner manhunt: Will lawsuits result from Torrance mistaken-ID shootings?

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 (colloquially known as Rule 11), states "By presenting to the court a pleading...an attorney...certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances...(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law." Ohio's rule is similar.

So, think before you file a claim on a client's behalf. For more on Rule 11, check out our selection of books, tapes, and movies on the subject.