Fleeing Felons Foiled Again; Getaway Driver Gets Away (for Once)

June 24, 2010, by Meyers Nave

In the not-very-closely-watched case of Espinosa v. Kirkwood, a Riverside-based court of appeal held yesterday that two burglars, injured when their getaway driver crashed their car, could not sue the getaway driver for their injuries. The burglars and driver were then arrested—the driver after trying, in an apparent lapse of professional pride, to leave the scene of the crash on foot. The court found the suit barred by Proposition 213, which prevents convicted felons from recovering damages proximately caused by someone’s negligence during their commission of, or flight from, a felony. The opinion doesn’t discuss whether the burglars have a valid claim against the failed getaway driver/walker for professional negligence—though the fact that he crashed into a line of cars stopped at an intersection suggests that this might have been a more promising avenue to pursue.

The court of appeal certified its unsurprisingly brief opinion for publication, making it binding precedent that trial courts must follow in future cases. Presumably, the court of appeal aimed to persuade the injured-burglar plaintiffs’ bar once and for all that getaway-crash litigation doesn’t pay. The blawg team will closely monitor this fascinating case, and promptly inform you if the burglars petition the California Supreme Court to review what they surely consider a criminal injustice.

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