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GROVES v. UNITED STATES

October 28, 1991

ASA GROVES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant


Stanley Sporkin, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

Plaintiff has brought this survival action under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the United States government. The plaintiff represents the estate of Robert Groves. Robert Groves died as a result of an automobile accident that occurred on December 8, 1988. The collision involved a BMW, driven by Mr. Groves, and a United States Park Police cruiser driven by Officer Ronald Robinson. The Court has entertained all the evidence presented by the parties in this case. Upon due consideration of the testimony, the exhibits, and the arguments that have been offered, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 I. Findings of Fact

 Liability

 1. Officer Raymond Robinson was traveling westbound in the middle lane of Independence Avenue, S.W. at approximately 2:35 pm on December 8, 1988. He was alone in his Park Police cruiser.

 2. Mr. Robert Groves was traveling southbound on 23rd St. Ms. Emma Gilbey was a passenger in his automobile. Mr. Groves came to a full stop at the red light at the intersection of 23rd St. and Independence Avenue, S.W.

 3. The light controlling Officer Robinson's lane of traffic turned red before his vehicle reached the intersection. A white vehicle followed by a blue pick-up truck traveling ahead of Officer Robinson continued through the red light and through the intersection.

 5. Officer Robinson was concentrating intently on the cars he was pursuing. He glanced at the intersection but because his attention was drawn to the cars he was pursuing, he did not observe the BMW about to enter the intersection from 23rd Street. He accelerated through the red light and into the intersection.

 6. Officer Robinson first noticed Mr. Groves' automobile as it moved slowly across Robinson's path. He moved his foot from the accelerator to the brake but he had accelerated so rapidly into the intersection that he could not stop his vehicle in time to prevent the collision.

 7. The light controlling Robert Groves lane of traffic was green at the time he proceeded into the intersection. He went forward at a conservative rate of speed, below the speed limit, intending to make a left turn, and was hit broadside by Officer Robinson's cruiser. The impact caused by the Park Police car virtually demolished the left side of Mr. Groves' car causing him severe injury and ultimately resulting in his death. (See photographs of accident attached to this opinion as Appendix 1.)

 8. It is clear from the entire record that Officer Robinson did not use the requisite care to avoid colliding with the Groves automobile. In entering the intersection, he did not proceed with caution even though he did not have the right of way.

 9. Officer Robinson was negligent in the operation of his automobile. An officer who drives his automobile into an intersection against a traffic light must take care to avoid colliding with traffic that the officer is well aware has the right of way.

 10. Officer Robinson in pursuing a traffic violator became so obsessed in attempting to apprehend the traffic violator that he recklessly and carelessly entered the intersection without exercising due regard to those travelers who ...


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