In this year 2000 federal court opinion there are claims that an off-duty police officer was drunk when he wrecked his Ninja motorcycle (leaving a bar at four in the morning) and that the officer on the accident scene was either negligent or gave preferential treatment by not testing the driver’s blood alcohol. The law suit was brought by a female passenger, who left the bar on the back of the motorcycle and was severely injured in the accident.

MELODI M. LAMP, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF BETTENDORF, A Municipal Corporation, and WARREN J.BEINE, Defendants.
Civil No. 3-99-cv-30121
2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21638
Decided – December 21, 2000

Judge Walter wrote the opinion of the district court:

On July 9, 1997 at about 4:18 a.m. Kenneth S. Koehler, an off-duty police officer for the City of Davenport, was driving his motorcycle, a 1995 Kawasaki Ninja, with Melodi Lamp as his passenger. Koehler had a learner’s permit for motorcycle operation which required he stay in sight of a licensed driver. Koehler and Lamp were involved in an single-vehicle accident after Koehler lost control of the motorcycle as he rounded a bend on a dead-end street. Lamp was thrown from the motorcycle and suffered serious injuries, including a skull fracture, closed head injury and facial scarring.

The court granted the defendants motion for summary judgment noting:

There is no evidence in the summary judgment record which would reasonably support a finding that Officer Beine acted with any intent or purpose to prevent or hinder Lamp from recovering restitution, or a civil judgment for damages against Koehler or the dram shops. The undisputed facts remain that neither Beine nor hospital personnel smelled alcohol on Koehler’s breath, a significant amount of time had elapsed, and Koehler passed the only field sobriety test Beine was able to administer. Beine’s findings in his accident report (Ex. D), that Koehler lost control of the motorcycle due to his inexperience and excessive speed are against any inference that Beine sought to protect Koehler from the civil consequences of his conduct. Even if Beine’s investigation could be viewed as slipshod to the point of recklessness, in the absence of duty neither he nor the City has any liability to Lamp.

Recall other NinjaLaw cases about Ninja Motorcycles:

Previously, we’ve seen it as seized property and vehicle for crime, this is the first Federal Court opinion referring to ninja motorcycles involved in A tragic accident and personal injury.