Appellate court: Mother of Jersey City man killed during police chase may still be able to sue

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The mother of a Jersey City man killed during a police chase by Hudson County sheriff’s officers in January 2018 may still be able to file a lawsuit after she won an appeal indicating that her late tort claim filing will be reconsidered.

Umar King. Facebook photo.

“The paucity of detail prevents the Law Division judge from fairly ruling on the papers. Ordinarily, a cause of action with a disputed accrual date will, particularly in those cases
requiring credibility determinations, call for an evidential hearing,” Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division Judges Carmen Alvarez and Gooden Brown ruled on Friday.

“This is such a case. The reasonableness of the belated discovery, under well-established precedent, requires close scrutiny.”

Lorraine King, the mother of Umar King – who was killed after being hit by a stolen SUV being pursued by sheriff’s officers on January 24th, 2018 – appealed a February 15th, 2019 Law Division order that dismissed a late notice of claim.

According to the appellate ruling, that decision was made without any oral argument or written statements of reason.

“Because no statement of reasons was placed on the record, or otherwise memorialized, we cannot even discern which date the judge used as the date of accrual,” the judges wrote.

“The accrual date can be tolled where an injured party is unaware of the identity of the alleged tortfeasor, however, the question requires evaluation of whether it is reasonable to impose upon the injured party the obligation to have learned of the identity earlier.”

Ultimately, the prior ruling has been reversed and remanded, which also included a motion to compel the Jersey City Police Department and HCSO to respond to Open Public Records Act requests submitted by her counsel.

In late 2018, the intersection where Umar King was killed, at the corner of John F. Kennedy and Communipaw Avenues, was rebranded Umar King Way.

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