Earlier in 2015, a family brought a wrongful death suit against a police department after their family member was killed while in police custody. According to local New Mexico news reports, the case remained at the state level until recently, when a federal lawsuit was brought by the family.
The family alleges that in January 2013, their family member got into a fight at a local bar. Police claim that the family member was drunk, and the bartender on duty would not serve him any additional alcohol. After that denial, the two parties got into a physical altercation. Other individuals at the bar pinned the man on the ground and called police. After police arrived, they immediately handcuffed the man.
Witnesses who were interviewed stated that even before the police arrived, the man was claiming he could not breathe. However, the family believes that one of the police officers was negligent by not having the man sit up after he was handcuffed but instead leaving him face down. The lawsuit claims that the man died from positional asphyxiation because of the position the officer left him in. The family brought a suit not only against the police officer but also against the police department and city for their negligent training. Additionally, they alleged a violation of the New Mexico Constitution.
Sovereign Immunity and Claims Against New Mexico Local and State Governments
Many states have some form of sovereign immunity that is mainly based on the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Act was established to protect individual citizens’ rights but also to prevent against constant legal actions against the government and its employees. The Act redefined sovereign immunity, allowing individuals to bring suits against the government. However, the Act also established certain waivers that limit what types of suits can be brought.
It is important that if an individual is planning on bringing a negligence suit against a government, they abide by all of the strict requirements governing these types of suits. Under the Act, any claim for an individual’s injuries or damages must be brought within 90 days after the act that gave rise to the claim occurred. There must be a written allegation that expresses all of the details of the incident. There are many exceptions to sovereign immunity and limitations of liability. These limitations cap the amount of damages a plaintiff may be entitled to. It is important that plaintiffs who wish to bring a suit of this nature contact an attorney because there are a significant number of hurdles in these types of suits.
Have You Been Injured by a Public Employee’s Negligence in New Mexico?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a wrongful death similar to the event above, it is important that you contact an attorney. An attorney at the Fine Law Firm can assist you in your case and ensure that all of the necessary requirements of filing a suit of this nature are met. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary damages for your injuries. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm today at 505-889-FINE to schedule your free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
State Supreme Court Permits Trial Judge Ability to Adjust Verdict When Jury’s Damages Award “Shockingly” Low, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 14, 2015.
Supreme Court of Texas Remands Case After Finding that Spectating a Sporting Event is Not Considered “Recreation” Under Relevant Statute, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 7, 2015.