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Judge Harold R. Banke.
Official immunity. Jones Superior Court. Before Judge Parrott.
In this personal injury action, David Morgan sued William David Causey, Deputy Wilbur A. Barnes, individually and in his official capacity, Sheriff Robert N. Reece in his official capacity, and Jones County. 1 The trial court granted summary judgment to Barnes individually on official immunity grounds, and this appeal ensued.
To prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must show that no genuine issues of material fact remain to be tried and that the undisputed facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, warrant summary judgment as a matter of law. Lau's Corp. v. Haskins, 261 Ga. 491 (405 SE2d 474) (1991). Viewed in that light, the record shows that this case arose after Deputy Barnes received a dispatch instructing him to stop a suspicious red car entering Jones County which had eluded two Bibb County officers. Barnes observed the car, which Causey was driving, saw it run a stop sign, and followed. Barnes radioed in the tag and learned that the license was listed to a car lot, leading him to believe there was a high probability the car was stolen. Barnes then activated his siren and lights and gave chase. Pursuing the red car, Barnes crested a hill and observed it alongside Morgan's Hyundai on the two-lane road. Barnes braked and decided to run his car into a creek near the road to avoid a collision. However, Morgan pulled over to the side of the road, and Barnes lost control and collided with Morgan's car. Held:
The record shows that Barnes decided to pursue the car after learning it had eluded two Bibb County officers and determining the car could have been stolen. Barnes testified that he had abandoned other chases he felt might endanger himself or others. His decision to pursue this car in the early morning hours when traffic was minimal, made in response to reports that it had eluded police and under a reasonable perception that it could be stolen, called for the exercise of personal deliberation and judgment and was therefore discretionary See id.; see also Logue v. Wright, 260 Ga. 206, 207-208 (392 SE2d 235) (1990). Because nothing in the record raises a triable issue as to the discretionary character of Barnes' conduct, summary judgment was properly granted. Compare McLemore, 212 Ga. App. at 865 (4) (evidence raising issue of whether officer was returning to routine duty precluded summary judgment).
Groover & Childs, Duke R. Groover, Frank H. Childs, Jr., for appellee.
1  Paula Morgan and her daughters, Chicarro and Chiquita Morgan, initially joined in this action, but subsequently were granted a voluntary dismissal without prejudice.
Karen K. Daniels, for appellant.
Thursday May 21 05:49 EDT

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