Defendants Ask Christie Cathers Wrongful Death Lawsuit Be Dismissed

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The defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit in Monongalia County surrounding the deputy-involved death of Christie Cathers have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Gregory Famerie filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Christie Cathers, who deputies said attempted to run them over after a brief chase, following a brandishing call. Cathers was subsequently fatally shot.

The lawsuit lists the Monongalia County Commission, two unnamed deputies, Sheriff Al Kisner, the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department and the Monongalia County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency MECCA 911 as defendants. The suit alleges excessive force/wrongful death and negligence against the responding deputies, liability against Sheriff Kisner, the sheriff’s department and the county commission, and negligence against MECCA 911 for not informing deputies that Cathers had mental issues.

The motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed on March 7, states that the deputies’ actions were reasonable under the circumstances, and that none of their actions violated any of Cathers’ constitutional rights. The motion to dismiss also states that the deputies’ “actions were not manifestly outside the scope of their employment or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.”

The deputies also contend that they owe no legal duty to Cathers under West Virginia law because law enforcement’s duty is to the public in general and not to any one individual.

Sheriff Kisner, the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department and MECCA 911 also claim that they cannot be held “vicariously liable for the actions of the responding deputies because their actions were purely intentional in nature, and a political subdivision cannot be held liable for an employee’s intentional acts,” based on a 1996 court ruling. The motion also states that the sheriff’s department cannot be held liable for the deputies’ actions because there is “no legal basis to hold a political subdivision strictly liable for actions of its employees under West Virginia case law or the Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act.”

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