The Ohio Supreme Court will not hear an appeal of a case involving up to 13 people who were hurt when a suspect chased by Westlake police crashed into the Dover Center Gardens bar on Detroit Road in 2014.
Attorney Nicholas DiCello filed the appeal to the Supreme Court after his clients lost their case in the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Akron in December. The Ohio Supreme Court made its ruling April 26.
DiCello was representing Bethany Anderson, one of 13 people injured on the night of Oct. 23, 2014. The appeal argued that Westlake Officer Mark Arcuri had performed the task in a dangerous manner.
“The City of Westlake and Officer Arcrui opposed the Plaintiff's request that the Ohio Supreme Court hear this case,” City Law Director Michael Maloney said in a statement. “The Supreme Court agreed with Westlake and our officer.”
DiCello was disappointed by the court's decision.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Ohio Supreme Court was unwilling to take this case in for review.”
DiCello said.that three of the four justices voted to take the case on and a fourth judge on the appellate court previously announced in a dissent that she would have permitted the claims against one of the officers “who we claim was responsible for running the truck off the road into the Dover Gardens Tavern to proceed to a jury trial.”
DiCello said he was not asking for judgment against the officer, but only that a jury be permitted to hear the evidence as to whether the officer bears some responsibility.
“It is frustrating that no jury will ever hear that evidence,” he said. “I commend my clients for enduring as long as they have to fight for their day in court.”
The chase began when Brandon Pawlak of Cleveland was seen driving erratically after stealing a truck from Sweetbriar Golf Club in Avon. The high-speed chase crossed into Westlake along Detroit Road, where police set up the stop strips.
The truck left the road and hit the Dover Gardens Tavern, injuring 13 people.
Seven of the injured sued the cities of Avon and Westlake and the officers involved in March 2017 in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, arguing the police should have not engaged in a dangerous, high-speed pursuit over a nonviolent theft. They lost the case, and appealed. That appeal was heard in March 2020 before the decision was announced in December 2021.
“It is tragic and unfortunate that the plaintiffs were injured so seriously in this accident,” Maloney said. “The cities and the officers involved, of course, wish this would have ended differently and no one would have been hurt. However, the Westlake police officers were doing their duty to help stop a dangerous, fleeing felon.”
Pawlak was convicted of 13 counts of aggravated robbery and 13 counts of aggravated vehicular assault, failure to comply, felony theft and breaking and entering. After being convicted in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, he was sentenced to 35½ years in prison.
“This pursuit was headed into more densely populated and heavily traveled areas of Westlake and Rocky River,” Maloney said. “The argument that the police should have simply left the criminal alone to run red lights at up to 70 mph is nonsensical. The officer acted reasonably and prudently under the circumstances, and that is what the trial court and the court of appeals found.”
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