The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Death Race 2012 Could Have Ended Worse for NJ State Police

Instead of worrying about whether the upper ranks of the police department will have their reputation tarnished over the incident, which was addressed by Superintendant Col. Rick Fuentes with the Star-Ledger, the New Jersey State Police should take solace in the fact that no one got hurt.

Besides the harm to innocent drivers that could have occurred, the “Death Race 2012” could have also cost the department a lot of money.

“Death Race 2012” is a nickname given to at least two incidents where state troopers escorted a fleet of exotic cars at high speed through daytime traffic on New Jersey’s busiest highways. One officer would lead, the guests would follow, and one would cover the tail end of the caravan.

The drivers allegedly included noted automobile enthusiast Brandon Jacobs, formerly of the New York Giants.

Warning: Video narrative may contain inappropriate language.

The problem that the department really needs to worry about is what would have happened if one of those cars had made an unsafe maneuver or had a mechanical failure, resulting in an accident. If one of the other drivers on the busy freeway were injured as a result, they could likely sue the driver of the exotic car as well as the State Police for their part in the unsafe race.

Employees of any business or organization are assumed to be acting on that organization's behalf while on duty. For these cops, they were driving police cruisers and were presumably on duty that day. Even if this was not part of their work duties, their employer could be vicariously liable for almost everything that they do during work hours, and while using company cars, under the theory of respondeat superior.

The department is however, not taking chances. They have already suspended two troopers without pay, reassigned the station commander, and are planning a series of meetings on "professionalism." They are going to have to look at leadership on this one. Troopers probably couldn't pull something like this off multiple times without the knowledge and or at least tacit consent of their bosses.

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