Same Case but a Different Court – Jefferson County Officials Face Lawsuit for Wrongful Death and Personal Injury

A Jefferson County Sheriff, Deputy Jason Michael Evan and Jefferson County are facing a personal injury and wrongful death claim in a case that claimed four lives and left one severely injured.

The fatal accident took place on September 29, 2010 at the US Highway no. 26. A Toyota Corolla, driven by April Scott Kalama collided with Warm Springs Tribal Police Car, shortly after Evan had attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the Corolla. As per the transcript of the oral arguments, Evan had tried to stop Kalama’s vehicle, knowing that it was a high risk traffic stop. The car was seen leaving the scene of a Madras burglary at high speed after a deputy pulled it over on Highway 26 near Warm Springs and moments later it crashed it to an oncoming Warm Springs Police Car.

The accident claimed lives of April Scott-Kalama, Valerie Suppah, Sean Starr, and Grace Sybil Scott, all of Warm Springs. The only survivor of the crash was Ladamire Lydell Kalama who was severely injured.

A lawsuit alleging wrongful death and deprivation of the plaintiffs’ civil rights was first filed in U.S. District Court in 2012, seeking about $30 million, as per the records of federal district court. In February, a U.S. District Court judge in Portland dismissed claims of negligence brought under state law due to lack of jurisdiction. Claims of wrongful death under federal law were dismissed with prejudice.

However, this time again claim is filed against Jefferson County and Deputy Jason Michael Evan for about $16 million in Deschutes County Circuit Court and it has been alleged that Evan initiated a high-risk vehicle stop alone in a situation that did not demand immediate action; that he negligently inspected and determined the correct number and age of occupants of Scott Kalama’s car or deliberately ignored the presence of young children; and that he engaged in a high-speed pursuit when no direct threat was posed to Evan’s life or to the general public, above all there is no explanation provided with respect to the jurisdiction as to why the case should be filed with Deschutes County.

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