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Posted: 5/21/2002 12:42:09 AM EDT
[url]http://www.kfwb.com/news_local.asp?displayOption=&contentGUID={1669600F-F3EF-4D38-AE52-5DD7A87B1EE0}&groupName=KFWB News Local Headlines&siteGUID={3B62BF55-4A93-48E6-A45D-6A495DC423AD}[/url] State Supreme Court Throws Out Courthouse Shooting Suit Against L.A. County A unanimous court found that the county had not contributed to a dangerous situation for Eileen Zelig, who was shot to death by her ex-husband in the downtown courthouse. The court ruled public entities in general are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime. (KFWB/AP) 5.20.02, 5:52p - - The state Supreme Court has thrown out a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit brought against Los Angeles County on behalf of the family of a woman shot to death by her ex-husband in the downtown courthouse. The high court ruled counties and sheriff's departments cannot be sued by victims of violence that happens inside courthouses. Eileen Zelig was shot by ex-husband Harry Zelig in 1995 after a hearing at the County Courthouse related to the couple's divorce. The lawsuit, naming the couple's two children as plaintiffs, alleged that the county was negligent in failing to install weapons screening technology prior to the shooting. Metal detectors and X-ray machines were installed in 1999. [b]The unanimous court ruled Monday that public entities in general are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime. It said allowing such lawsuits could expose government agencies to liability on many of their properties.[/b] "The rule embraced by that court could impose liability for failure to protect persons from third-party crime at any public facility where passions run high, from a crowded office of the Department of Motor Vehicles, to the offices of a child protective services agency," Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote. Two years ago, a man shot a woman he was accused of sexually assaulting and then killed himself in a Yreka courthouse hallway. In January, a father who may have been despondent about a court ruling on overdue child support killed himself at the entrance of the downtown San Diego County courthouse. Harry Zelig was convicted of first-degree murder in February 1997 and was sentenced to 29 years to life in prison. Local governments anxiously awaited Monday's decision, fearing the Supreme Court could open a Pandora's box of liability if it sided with the appeals court. "The implications were very scary from the point of view from what potentially could be the scope of liability for municipalities," said attorney Steven J. Renick, who argued the case on behalf of Los Angeles County. "If you basically say anything the government touches creates potential liability, they are going to be liable for everything." Feminist groups decried the ruling, saying women who use the courts for family law matters -- such as divorce, child custody and restraining orders -- are in danger. "These women are required to go to the courthouse, and this is the only time they'll see their abuser," said LeAnna Gutierrez, an attorney with the California Women's Law Center. "They're required to face the abuser and the state has no actual duty to protect them while they're there." -- continued --
Link Posted: 5/21/2002 12:46:01 AM EDT
Eileen Zelig, 40, who said she lived in mortal terror of her ex-husband, was killed when Harry Zelig shot her in the chest after a divorce proceeding in which he said she was trying to seize his car. The couple's 6-year-old daughter was seen shrieking in distress after the shooting as bystanders raced for cover. In obtaining a restraining order, the woman had filed court papers five months before, describing herself as "sick with fear" of her ex-husband. She had notified the bailiff who had searched the husband for weapons at one court appearance. A state appeals court said counties owe "a duty to take reasonable steps to provide safe courthouses to those who enter." The decision cleared the way for the daughter and her siblings to sue Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for wrongful death and other actions. But the Supreme Court reversed course. "The danger faced by Eileen that her husband would shoot her was the same inside the courthouse as outside," George wrote. Most of the state's large, metropolitan courthouses run such security checks. The Supreme Court, which is based in San Francisco, requires onlookers to go through metal detectors twice, once when entering the building and again before being seated in its courtroom. But, because of budgetary constraints, many of California's small town or outlaying courthouses do not have such security measures. The case decided Monday is Zelig v. Los Angeles County, S081791.
Link Posted: 5/21/2002 1:00:11 AM EDT
Originally Posted By warlord: [b]The unanimous court ruled Monday that public entities in general are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime. It said allowing such lawsuits could expose government agencies to liability on many of their properties.[/b]
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Same as the ruling that resulted in dismissal of ALL of the suits filed against the LAPD by people harmed in the L.A. riots. Protection isn't mentioned in the State Constitution so it isn't a right. The kaliban supreme court says so.
Link Posted: 5/21/2002 1:23:54 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/21/2002 7:37:18 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Imbroglio:
Originally Posted By warlord: [b]The unanimous court ruled Monday that public entities in general are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime. It said allowing such lawsuits could expose government agencies to liability on many of their properties.[/b]
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Same as the ruling that resulted in dismissal of ALL of the suits filed against the LAPD by people harmed in the L.A. riots. Protection isn't mentioned in the State Constitution so it isn't a right. The kaliban supreme court says so.
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I guess bottom-line is, which should not be too much of a surprise to many on this board, you're reponsible for your own well-being, not the govt.
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