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  • Civil suit against me...

    I came back to work from vacation yesterday and I was welcomed back by being served with papers from a civil suit filed against me

    Without touching on too many specifics, the story is this. In 2003 we arrested some teenagers in a rented minivan with a fair amount of marijuana concealed inside (somewhere between 80 -100 lbs, I don't remember the exact amount). There were bundles of marijuana all over this van-we were finding bundles concealed in all of the doors, under all of the interior panels, etc. A lot of the bundles had expanded from heat and were difficult to extract, and during the removal of the bundles the van was damaged.

    The rental car company then complained that too much damage was done to their vehicle, and filed a tort claim against the federal government. Two different tort claims have been dismissed already, and now the rental company has filed a lawsuit against myself and two other agents personally alleging that we acted inappropriately under the color of law.

    None of us have received any disciplinary action because we were doing our jobs. However, I am a little concerned about the fact that this is going to court in an area where a lot of people are not fond of the agency that I work for. A damage award from a hostile jury could cost me a lot of money out of my pocket.

    Has anyone else here had something similar happen to them? Should I even be concerned about a jury making a bad decision and costing me a lot of money? I still find it hard to believe that the rent-a-car company is suing me instead of the drug smuggler who used their vehicle to commit a felony.

  • #2
    Search incident to arrest bro......obviously the more you find the more you can justify tearing up. There have been times when we found drugs in hidden compartments and went as far as taking out the car battery, spare tire, and every single piece of plastic within the car...needless to say the dash was pretty much gone. It is a part of your job, you need not a search warrant at that point (atleast not here)....besides that...Was it beyond reasonable and neccessary? Was it within the scope based on what you already found? Just make sure you have your department guidelines in order when you go to court...and be ready to cite court of appeals and supreme court judgements! I think you will be fine
    Last edited by mdcop4life; 06-22-2005, 02:22 PM.

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    • #3
      Since you were operating under color of authority, will your agency provide legal defense and/or indemnify you for any damages? Have you advised your chain of command and labor union about the lawsuit?

      While I understand your concern, I wouldn't sweat this too awfully much. The issue is damage to a rental vehicle, not someone's freedom, health, or life. If two tort claims have already been dismissed, it sounds like the rental company is grasping at straws.

      Good luck and be safe.
      John from Maryland

      Comment


      • #4
        Because you were acting within the scope of your official duties and as an agent of your employer, your agency should provide you with defense counsel. I would immediately submit a written request for representation.
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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        • #5
          If they were an honest company, they wouldn't go after you or your agency. They would go after the people that rented the vehicle.

          After all, their renters were the ones that engaged in the criminal activity. It was their actions which caused their van to get torn apart.

          However, I don't think you have anything to worry about. While we run the risk of getting sued, you generally have to really screw up to get a judgement against you.
          Last edited by AtlCop; 06-28-2005, 03:25 PM.
          Sign here. Press hard. You are making five copies.

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          • #6
            As some of the others have said, YOU should be covered under your dept as you are working as their agent. If they are not responsible, then you are not responsible. It should not make it to court with the proper attorney and the agency is, or should be required to provide you consul. This is why the officers are bonded.

            Comment


            • #7
              You have every right to counter sue as a individual claiming they are ruining yoiur good name and casuing you undue stress and you perhaps no you will be offered a settlement to drop your suit.

              I would contact every major news media I could get to talk to and drop thsi story in a heart beat the company would then back off, Which company is it and we can all go to their website and tell them that we will never use their cars ever etc and get others to do the same thing.

              Wanna Bet We Can **** With'em legally
              And we can stop and ticket any driver of any rental car and if you impound a rental car guess who has to prove ownership and pay to get it back.

              Oh we can be pretty dirty NATIONWIDE..................

              Comment


              • #8
                Let us know what company and ther will catch holy hell in Memphis

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bodie
                  Oh we can be pretty dirty NATIONWIDE..................
                  I like your style Bodie!! Come on BigPat, tell us what company it is.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bodie
                    You have every right to counter sue as a individual claiming they are ruining yoiur good name and casuing you undue stress and you perhaps no you will be offered a settlement to drop your suit.

                    I would contact every major news media I could get to talk to and drop thsi story in a heart beat the company would then back off, Which company is it and we can all go to their website and tell them that we will never use their cars ever etc and get others to do the same thing.

                    Wanna Bet We Can **** With'em legally
                    And we can stop and ticket any driver of any rental car and if you impound a rental car guess who has to prove ownership and pay to get it back.

                    Oh we can be pretty dirty NATIONWIDE..................
                    I bet we can get more than just cops to participate. We can probably make a pretty extensive letter writing campaign out of it.

                    I hope he shares with us the company name.
                    Sign here. Press hard. You are making five copies.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Two things I forgot to mention. If your agency refuses to defend you:

                      1. Go to your union. They often provide legal defense when the agency refuses to do so.

                      2. If your union doesn't help and you have a homeowners insurance policy, you probably have liability coverage. Contact your insurance agency, tell them there may be claim against your liability coverage and ask them to defend you. (They usually do.)

                      Good luck.
                      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The car agency in question is...

                        Thrifty rent-a-car out of Mcallen, Texas. I thought about firing off a few nasty letters to them, but that probably isn't the most prudent thing to do when they have a lawsuit pending against me. I have already submitted a request for a government attorney and I believe that our sector legal counsel is going to defend us, also I believe that we will still get to go to court on this on duty and get paid. Hopefully things won't turn out too poorly on this deal...

                        I still think it is incredibly crappy that they are suing us instead of the drug smugglers. Also the fact that they took things one step further by suing the individual agents after their suit against thr government was thrown out really makes me wonder about the people that they have running that business.

                        In this area the use of rental vehicles for smuggling of illegal aliens and drugs is commonplace. If they had any sense they would stop renting to people that didn't have a sufficient credit limit to cover possible vehicle damage. Or they could require the renter to purchase insurance. Suing law enforcement officers is just plain stupid. What did they expect us to do, leave the marijuana bundles in the vehicle so that some innocent person could rent it and be arrested?
                        Last edited by BigPat; 06-23-2005, 02:43 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Pat,
                          The BP better back you on this! From an honest persons perspective, no way in hell would they win, just won't happen. But having been in the BP myself i know how "local" folk don't like you, especially when your interupting thier enterprise.

                          Couple things, Get a copy of their rental agreement and I will bet that someplace on it, it states something to the effect of not misuseing. Get the media involved. O'Rielly loves the BP so give it to them and I'd be will ing to bet he'll get it on the air somehow. Write a letter to the loal papers and to Thrifty's Coorperation. Send them a copy of their own contract. Ask them to drop te case or you will seek national attention to the case. Hell throw it all out there and just see what sticks. But above all file a counter suit like someone stated, Don't be shy. F Thifty.

                          PS- On a side note: Don't you just love those load vehicles.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Target Thrift Rent A Car

                            Okay guys Thrifty Rent A Car is now our number one target at Officer.com.
                            They should have simply took their car back and went after the renter respsonsible and left the officers out of this frivilous lawsuit.

                            Start by letting all the major networks know about this, NBC, ABC CBS and FOX News and see who bites on the story. This will get so ugly for Thrifty on a national level thay will run for cover.

                            See a Thrift Rental driven recklessly HOOK IT. See one illegally parked HOOK IT...................... See one speeding TICKET IT and maybe HOOK IT UP..

                            Give a Thrifty Employee a BREAK ? FORGET THAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            Ever Rent Thrifty Car ????? OH HELL NO.

                            By Now going to thrifty website to email .........

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Boycott Thrifty

                              I emailed THRIFTY on their coporate website using the area usually reserved for medai relations. I stressed thatbthey may face a national boycott by cops, families of cops and lawa abiding citizens etc that use the rental car business of Thrifty.

                              GET ON IT GUYS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

                              We don't have to play nice ...... We just have to WIN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              Comment

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