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Accident with Government Employee Personal-Injury

By its terms, Ohio Rev. Code § 2744.03(A)(6) operates as a presumption of immunity. Thus, pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code § 2744.03(A)(6), police officers are immune from suit for acts within their official duties unless one of the enumerated exceptions applies. This statutory immunity may also be characterized, in its effect, as a qualified immunity. In other words, immunity will attach to the conduct of political subdivision employees so long as one of the exceptions does not apply. To successfully litigate a claim against a state agency or employee, you may be required to demonstrate the defendant engaged in malicious, wanton, or reckless behavior, or that the individual operated in bad faith.

"Wanton" misconduct refers to a failure to exercise any care whatsoever. Fabrey v. McDonald (1994), 70 Ohio St. 3d 351, 356, 639 N.E.2d 31; Hawkins v. Ivy (1977), 50 Ohio St. 2d 114, 363 N.E.2d 367, syllabus. "Reckless" refers to conduct that causes an unreasonable risk of harm and is "substantially greater than that which is necessary to make his conduct negligent." Thompson v. McNeill (1990), 53 Ohio St. 3d 102, 104-05, 559 N.E.2d 705. The term "malice" is the "willful and intentional design to do injury or the intention or desire to harm another, usually seriously, through conduct which is unlawful or unjustified." Hicks v. Leffler (1997), 119 Ohio App. 3d 424, 428-29, 695 N.E.2d 777. "Bad faith" implies sinister motive and also refers, by way of analogy to insurance law, to that which has "no reasonable justification." Zoppo v. Homestead Ins. Co. (1994), 71 Ohio St. 3d 552, 554, 644 N.E.2d 397.

For example, lets say you were hit by a school bus while the driver was picking up students before school.  The bus driver and the municipality he/she worked for, would be entitled to immunity from any liability of the accident.  However, if the bus driver ran a stop sign, then you would be able to argue that the driver's actions constitutes reckless behavior.  If this were the case, then you would argue the immunity should not attach because of the exception listed above.

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