Mitchell v. City of Warren, No. 14-2075 (6th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Officer Lapham responded to a call for backup; another officer had stopped a car with expired tags when a passenger—16-year-old Robert—ran from the car, broke into an abandoned house, and hid. Lapham arrived as an officer began to arrest Robert, who then tried to evade the officer’s grasp. A struggle ensued. Lapham de-holstered his taser and shot Robert. One dart hit inches above Robert’s heart, the other inches below. Robert fell to the ground. A medical team could not resuscitate him. In training, officers had been told that, “even when the taser’s darts land on the chest, the weapon is safe.” Robert’s mother settled claims against the officers and the city, then added claims against the weapon’s manufacturer, Taser. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Taser, finding no duty to warn the Warren Police Department about any cardiac risks at the time of sale in 2006, Michigan law precluded any post-sale duty to warn, Taser had not assumed a duty to warn by virtue of its training regimen, and plaintiff could not prove that Lapham would have ever seen a warning even if Taser had issued one.