The Missouri Supreme Court today upheld a Joplin 911 operator's claim of qualified immunity from a lawsuit.
The unanimous decision means that Jerry Love, who filed a lawsuit after the 2002 death of his son, Wesley, will have to show that Diana Golden was guilty of serious negligence.
Ms. Golden was working as a 911 operator for the city of Joplin on March 31, 2002, when she received a call saying that a man was lying on the middle of the street on Hill Street, between High and Michigan streets, according to the court record.
Ms. Golden recorded the location as west of Hill and Michigan, even though Hill Street was actually one block east of Michigan Street. "The officer responding to the dispatch approached the intersection from the south, and as he looked west, the car in front of him turned east running over Wesley Love, who eventually died from the injuries he suffered.
After Jerry Love brought the wrongful death lawsuit, Ms. Golden's lawyer filed a motion for summary judgment, saying her client was immune from liability under law. Jasper County Circuit Court Judge William Carl Crawford denied the motion. After an appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, not allowing the case to be dismissed until it could take it under consideration.
Love will be given an opportunity to make a valid claim against Ms. Golden, the decision said. If no such claim is made, another motion for summary judgment can be made or a motion to dismiss can be filed.