eNotes: Liability – October 2022 – Washington, DC
October 03, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
DC CASE SUMMARY
Thurman v. District of Columbia
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
No. 19-CV-912, 2022 D.C. App. LEXIS 304
Decided: September 15, 2022
Standard of care can be proven via reliance on opponents’ expert reports.
The Plaintiff was 15 years old when he was bitten by a Police Department canine while hiding from officers. Following these bites, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint against the District of Columbia and two police officers. His Complaint alleged that the officers were negligent, used excessive force, and violated his civil rights. He argued that they were negligent because they “failed to follow department procedure, failed to adequately control the police dog, and failed to warm him of the dog’s presence.” The Trial Court granted Defendants’ Motion for summary judgment on all counts. As to the negligence count, the Trial Judge granted summary judgment after finding that the Plaintiff had failed to establish the applicable standard of care in a negligence case.
On appeal, Thurman challenged the entry of summary judgment on the negligence count against the police officers. Specifically, the Plaintiff took issue with the reasoning behind the Trial Court’s entry of summary judgment, arguing that his expert, through an Affidavit, had established a standard of care in the case.
Despite finding that Plaintiff’s expert did not sufficiently establish a standard of care, the Court found that the same was established by the Defendants’ expert (a retired police officer from a neighboring jurisdiction). The Court of Appeals found that the Defendants’ expert had articulated a “national standard of care” regarding the use of police canines. Using the standard of care that the Defendants’ expert established, a reasonable jury could find a deviation from that standard and a causal relationship between the deviation and injury. Thus, summary judgment was improper.
Questions about this case can be directed to Matt Ainsley at (202) 945-9506 or email@example.com.