Legal Briefs #33: Call the Police, Get Sued

Call the police in Florida and you might get sued.

Because of the repeal of a little-known state law, if a police officer or firefighter is injured while responding to a call, he can sue for damages.

Says the Palm Beach Post: In recent months a Jupiter, Florida motorcycle police officer and a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy have sued people who called for help. In both cases, the officers blamed their injuries on the people they have sworn to protect.

At least two other such lawsuits have been filed in the state this year.

The lawsuits, the paper says, are allowed because of the 1990 repeal of the “fireman’s rule,” which prohibited public safety employees and their families from filing civil lawsuits for on-the-job injuries or deaths. Now these lawsuits by police and firefighters are “a growing phenomenon,” according to Gerald Rosenthal, a West Palm Beach workers compensation and personal injury attorney.

Bill Douthat, Police Can Sue Citizens for Damages, Palm Beach Post, September 30, 2003 (brought to our attention by Walter Olson’s

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.