Family Petitions Supreme Court For Relief In Son’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The attorney for the family of a young man killed in a tragic traffic accident recently petitioned Minnesota’s Supreme Court to hear the details of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Waseca County. A Court of Appeals panel has already ruled in favor of the county, upholding a motion for summary judgement handed down by a District Court in April 2016.

The tragic case began in November 2012 when the victim, a former Waseca County football star and member of Minnesota State’s football team, was killed in an auto crash on Old Hwy. 14 and County Road 27 in Waseca. The victim came to a stop at a stop sign and was struck by an oncoming 18-wheeler leading to his wrongful death

What the victim did not know was that the intersection he previously knew as a four-way stop had been changed to a two-way stop with through traffic just days before. While the stop signs coming parallel to the victim’s lane had been removed, the white lines demarking where other traffic would stop had remained, giving the impression the intersection remained a four-way stop.

Family Challenges Official Immunity

The family filed their suit, claiming the county was responsible because it violated Minnesota’s traffic manual rules requiring proper signals be installed warning travellers in cases where changes to road signage have been made. The plaintiff cited two provisions of the state’s traffic manual rules as evidence of wrongdoing by the county:

  • Installing “all-way” plaques on the stop signs; and
  • Flashing signal heads for 90 days alerting drivers to the change.

Furthermore, attorneys for the plaintiff argue the county, “owes a duty not to increase the risk of harm” to residents and visitors. Unfortunately, to this point the lower courts have upheld the state’s doctrine of official immunity making it extremely difficult for ordinary people to file civil lawsuits against state and local governments alleging negligence.

The plaintiffs argue the lower courts have misapplied Minnesota Supreme Court rulings from the past concerning official immunity and should set a clear precedent for District and Courts of Appeals to apply the laws properly. 

Woodbury Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or your family was harmed in an accident or suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, contact our office for a free consultation about your case. The Woodbury personal injury attorneys of Novitzke, Gust, Sempf, Whitley & Bergmanis serve clients throughout Minnesota and are ready to fight for your legal rights. Call us today at 715-268-6130 to schedule a consultation

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