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Bystander Hurt in Police Chase Can Sue, Court Rules

March 11, 1987

Police are not immune from a lawsuit filed by a motorist injured in a traffic accident with gang members who were fleeing from officers, an appellate court ruled in Santa Ana on Tuesday.

Reinstating a lawsuit that had been dismissed, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that police in pursuit of a suspect must not create an unreasonable risk of harm to others.

Marian Deckard claimed she was injured when a vehicle driven by a member of a Santa Ana gang known as F-Troop collided with hers on Feb. 22, 1982. Santa Ana police, suspecting that the gang planned to disrupt classes at Saddleback High School, were in pursuit.

The court rejected arguments by city lawyers who claimed that Santa Ana is immune under state law from such lawsuits and revived Deckard's claim, which gives her a chance to persuade a jury that she deserves compensation for her injuries.

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