Gonzalez v. JohnsonAnnotate this Case
In this wrongful death suit the Supreme Court overruled Chambers v. Ideal Pure Milk Co., 245 S.W.2d 589 (Ky. 1952), and its per se no proximate cause rule and adopted the majority rule that will allow juries to determine whether a pursuing officer's actions were a substantial factor in causing injury to a third party and apportion fault accordingly.
Luiz Gonzalez was killed when a criminal suspect crashed into his vehicle during a high-speed chase initiated by Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Johnson. Johnson's vehicle was not involved in the collision. The estate of Gonzalez filed a wrongful death suit against Johnson and Sheriff Tony Hampton. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Johnson and Hampton based on Chambers. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) insofar as Chambers holds an officer cannot be the proximate or legal cause of damage inflicted on a third party by a fleeing suspect, Chambers is overruled; and (2) an officer can be the cause-in-fact and legal cause of damages inflicted upon a third party as a result of a negligent pursuit.