The Iowa Judicial Building.

The Iowa Supreme Court hear oral arguments Thursday in a case where a woman sued the state for negligence after a multi-state fugitive being chased by a State Trooper ran into her car in central Iowa.

The Polk County district court judge ruled Amber Martinez’s lawsuit involving the chase by Trooper Brett Tjepkes could go forward. Attorney David Ranscht argued for the state that there is no case. “No reasonable jury could conclude on this record which you have in front of you in video format and including audio as well that Sergeant Tjepkes acted recklessly so you should reverse and remand with instructions to enter summary judgment for the state,” he says.

The fugitive, Scott Grimes, had sped away at speeds of 90 miles and hour in Urbandale and was running through stoplights, when Trooper Tjepkes to cut off the pursuit just before the crash. “That’s when you see Sergeant Tjepkes say ‘okay it’s going too far I’m going to shut this down’,” Ranscht says. Ranscht says that’s an indication there was no negligence in the case.

Martinez’s lawyer, Molly Hamilton, says the district court ruling correctly said the issue should go to a jury. “There was a threshold finding of recklessness and there are facts to support that threshold finding to leave the question of recklessness to a jury,” Hamilton says.

She says the radio transmissions the trooper had with other officers prior to trying to stop Grimes are an indication he started the pursuit despite the risk. “Officer Tjepkes says three times, ‘If we don’t get him in the right place, if he runs, if there’s a pursuit there’s going to be disaster, there’s going to be a problem three times.’ And so, that is to me, that is the not just probable injury. He is consciously aware of that risk,” Hamilton says.

Hamilton says Trooper Tjepkes had the duty to avoid that risk and the eventual injury to her client and her kids from the crash. The Supreme Court will consider the arguments and rule at a later date.

Radio Iowa