The Shoe on the Other Foot

It’s not a difficult task to look up cases in which a citizen has taken a police officer or a police department to court for injuries sustained during public contact. Far less common are instances in which a police officer is injured by an ordinary person, and then sues that person in civil court for major damages. That’s exactly what happened recently in
Mason, Ohio, where an injured policeman was awarded a judgment of $1.9 million.

Sunday Driver

Scott Miller was directing traffic after Sunday mass at St. Susanna Catholic Church in February 2010 when Eleanor Donovan struck him with her car while leaving the parking lot. The injuries he sustained in the accident were so severe that he was eligible for only one percent of his department’s available employment positions. Ms. Donovan’s attorney tried to downplay Miller’s injuries and stated that he had backed into traffic.

Incriminated by Her Own Words

However, Ms. Donovan’s own statement that she wrote five days after the incident verifies that she hit Miller with her car, that he went airborne and that he landed on the pavement. The testimony of doctors as to Miller’s subsequent disabilities sealed the case against Donovan. Even with the large sum of money, Miller sees the verdict as “bittersweet”, citing the loss of an active lifestyle and the loss of his job as a police officer are things he won’t get to enjoy again.

From coast to coast and everywhere in between, Americans have always exhibited great empathy for those who toil as peace officers in their locales. We tend to think of them losing their lives (or livelihoods) in shoot-outs or in fiery car crashes… That’s the Hollywood version. While this case may seem to be unique, officers are injured everyday in ways that are more mundane than they are sensational.