The claim arises from the police killing of Christopher Burgess last summer. The Times Standard has the story. The claim was filed just before the six-month deadline for personal injury claims against a government entity. She is represented by David Dibble, a local attorney who is no lightweight.
These claims are routinely rejected. In fact, in my opinion the whole tort claims act is a bit of a fraud. Ostensibly it’s to allow government entities to attempt to settle the matter out of court. However, in my 12 years of practice I’ve filed probably about 50 of them and only once has an entity attempted to settle the matter prior to my filing a complaint. It’s really about shortening the statute of limitations for government entities and catching indecisive claimants unaware.
Once the government rejects the claim formally, the claimant has six months to file a lawsuit. I should mention that six months is not always adequate time to investigate a matter and sometimes we attorneys simply file the claim in order to buy another six months. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a lawsuit will be filed. The fact that it was filed at the last minute suggests the possibility that Ms. Burgess and her attorney have not yet decided whether to file. These cases are very tough, and you need to have your ducks lined up pretty well before tossing it into “delay-reduction” hastened discovery processes.
The officer who killed Burgess has been cleared by all of the appropriate agencies in terms of criminal charges, including Gallegos’ office. But the civil court standard of proof is also considerably lower than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard which governs criminal cases.