DALLAS (CN) - Official immunity prevents a well-known Texas personal injury attorney from suing Dallas over a fire truck crash, an appeals court ruled.
Calling himself the "Strong Arm" in television commercials that run several times daily across the state, Brian Loncar suffered serious injuries in May 2008 a fire engine responding to a call ran a red light and totaled his Bentley in a Dallas intersection.
"The incident was investigated by the Dallas Police Department that concluded fireman Pual Ferguson disregarded a stop-and-go-signal and disregarded turn marks at the intersection and those were causes of the incident in question," Loncar's complaint stated. "Immediately following the incident, EMS transported Brian to Parkland Hospital where he was diagnosed with severe injuries and damages as a result of the incident."
When a judge refused to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, Dallas argued on appeal that it had official immunity because Ferguson was performing discretionary duties within the scope of his authority, provided he acted in good faith.
Loncar conceded in his appeal that the only question was whether the city conclusively established Ferguson acted in good faith.
A three-judge panel with the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas agreed with the city Thursday, ruling that both sides take nothing on their claims.
Ferguson "conclusively established" he acted in good faith based on evidence that rush hour had ended, the road was dry, and other cars had stopped and yielded the right-of-way, according to the ruling.
Loncar failed to show that Ferguson's testimony was "riddled with inconsistencies," or that Ferguson was particularly careless to drive through the intersection based on his admission that he saw Loncar's car approaching.
"On the contrary, Ferguson's affidavit indicates he slowed down as he approached the intersection," Bridges wrote. "Then, after assessing the need to get to the fire quickly against the risk of accident, he concluded that the danger posed by increasing his speed above the thirty-five mile per hour speed limit or traveling through the intersection of Loma Alto and Lemmon at or just under the speed limit was far less than the danger posed by the potential fire and potential loss of life."
Loncar & Associates did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening. The law firm has offices in Dallas, Houston, McAllen, El Paso, Tyler, Beaumont, Lubbock, Wichita Falls and Odessa, according to its website.
The ruling quells fears of cities facing more lawsuits relating to emergency personal doing their jobs.Follow @davejourno
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