Ferris Files Lawsuit Against Police Officer and City of Smithville Over Fatal Car Crash

July 2, 2007
Dwayne Page

A Circuit Court lawsuit was filed Friday against the City of Smithville, the Police Department, and Police Officer Callie Matthews, who was involved in a fatal car crash in April on Foster Road that claimed the life of Andrew Ferris

Ferris' mother, Angela Ferris, is suing individually and as next of kin to her son.

Ferris basically claims that the officer was negligent in following city policies and state laws regarding public safety and that the city has failed to properly train and discipline it's officers, including Matthews.

She is seeking a judgment for compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, as well as attorney fees.

The lawsuit alleges that on or about April 23rd, 2007, Andrew B. Ferris was operating his vehicle in a safe and prudent manner and traveling in a southerly direction on Foster Road in Smithville and that Officer Matthews, operating a vehicle owned by the Smithville Police Department and the Municipal Government of the City of Smithville, was responding to a call traveling in a northerly direction on Foster Road.

Ms. Ferris claims that Officer Matthews failed to follow established departmental policies regarding the use and operation of that vehicle and it's safety/emergency equipment and that she was traveling at a very high rate of speed.

According to the lawsuit, Officer Matthews had utilized her emergency equipment and emergency signals were \"flashing\" but that she did not activate her siren and thus there was no audible warning or notice to other vehicles alerting of her approach.

The complaint alleges that Officer Matthews failed to maintain control of her vehicle and traveled into Ferris' lane of travel, that the officer struck the vehicle being driven by Ferris causing extensive property damage to his car, and that as a proximate and direct impact of that collision, Ferris suffered extensive physical injuries, which ultimately resulted in his death.

Ms. Ferris alleges negligence in that Officer Matthews owed her son and the public a duty of due care in the operation of her vehicle, but that she breached that duty when she failed to maintain control of her vehicle, that she was driving in a reckless and careless manner without regard to the safety of others, and that as a direct and proximate result of her negligence, Andrew Ferris suffered fatal injuries.

According to the lawsuit, Officer Matthews violated state laws in that she was driving reckless in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; exceeding the speed limit; and driving an emergency vehicle at excessive speed endangering life and property.

State law authorizes the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle to exceed the speed limits so long as it does not endanger life or property. The exemptions granted to an emergency vehicle shall apply only when such vehicle is making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirement of applicable state laws.

These provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall they protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Ms Ferris further alleges that Officer Matthews violated the Smithville Police Department's Policies and Procedures regarding \"Crime in Progress Calls\". The policy states the officer, operating a vehicle enroute, will proceed to the scene swiftly but safely, taking into account weather, road, and traffic conditions as well as his own driving capabilities.

According to the complaint, the negligence of Officer Matthews, by violation of statutes, established departmental policies and as set out in common law, constituted a proximate cause of the collision and of the injuries and damages to Ferris.

The lawsuit further alleges that the City of Smithville and the Police Department owed Ferris a duty to protect him and to exercise due diligence in the hiring, training, and disciplining of it's employees and staff, but that the city and police department breached that duty by failing to enforce or initiate policies designed to protect the safety of the public, and failing to adequately train, discipline, and monitor it's employees in the proper use, care, and operation of city vehicles and emergency equipment.

Ms. Ferris claims she has suffered a loss of benefit and consortium from the parental relationship, entitling her to damages; that she has been caused to suffer great emotional, physical, and psychological pain and injury; that she has suffered loss of life; loss of future earning capacity; and has incurred considerable medical, burial expenses, loss to property; and has incurred the expenses of an attorney.

Ms. Ferris is represented by Lebanon attorney Adam W. Parrish.

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