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WI Supreme Court: Cops aren't immune from liability in emergency crashes

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday against a Racine police officer who said she was immune from liability when she drove through a red light to get to an emergency, and got into a crash at that corner.

On a 4-3 vote, the justices ruled in favor of Eileen Legue, who had her windows up and didn't hear Amy Matsen's police siren before the two vehicles collided.

Matsen was on her way to investigating another traffic crash in 2009 when she slowed to 27 miles an hour, and had her lights and siren on, and used a bullhorn to warn those coming from the side.

Both Matsen and Legue were injured in their collision.

Legue sued the city, saying the officer failed to exercise "due regard." A jury found both parties equally at fault.

A circuit judge later ruled in favor of the officer, saying she could not have prevented the crash unless she stopped altogether. The judge said Matsen was immune because she exercised judgment at the corner.

The Supreme Court disagreed in its nearly-split decision. The majority said it's clear that public employees who don't drive with "due regard under the circumstances" can be sued.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)