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California: Private Citizens Assisting Police May Not Sue in Spite of Being Lured to Murder Scene

June 08, 2018 (1 min read)

In a case involving an utterly bizarre fact pattern, a California appellate court held that a civil action for negligence and misrepresentation filed by two private citizens against a California county was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions in Cal. Labor Code § 3366 (California’s “posse” law). The two citizens, a husband and wife, did not work for the county. They were telephoned by a Trinity County deputy who asked them — because of their proximity to the incident — to “check on” a neighbor who had placed a 911 call for help. According to the plaintiff’s allegations, the deputy told them the call was likely related to inclement weather. The deputy also omitted information that suggested potential criminal activity. Plaintiffs unwittingly walked into a murder scene and were brutally attacked by the man who apparently had just murdered their neighbor and her boyfriend. Under § 3366, any person “assisting any peace officer in active law enforcement service” is deemed to be an employee of the public entity for whom he or she is “serving,” and workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy afforded for any injury. 

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. 

See Gund v. County of Trinity, 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 522 (June 4, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 28.03.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law