The Supreme Court of Ohio has once again limited the rights of the severely injured in favor of police and political subdivisions in the case of Smith v. McBride, Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-4674. Visit the Supreme Court of Ohio website at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov for the entire opinion.

A Clinton Township police officer was responding to a Franklin County Deputy Sheriff’s request for assistance when the deputy was on foot and pursuing a fleeing suspect. The Clinton police officer, outside of his jurisdiction, had no authority to make an arrest, had no duty to respond, and did not even warn other users of the roadway with lights or sirens as he operated his cruiser at a speed of approximately 20 mph above the stated speed limit. The victims he struck were severely injured.

The Clinton Township officer, and the Township, were granted immunity and not held liable as the officer was deemed to be responding to an emergency call. ‘Emergency call’ includes responding to a call to duty even if it does not involve an inherently dangerous situation according to the Court. Now an emergency call granting immunity even includes responding outside the jurisdiction when the officer has no duty to arrest.

Does it make any sense that the negligence of the officer in no way plays a role? How can immunity even be constitutional?