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In a well-known local case, former Neptune, New Jersey police officer Philip Seidle is said to have shot his ex-wife Tamara in broad daylight after a car chase through Asbury Park several weeks after the couple in question divorced. Now, the nine children of Tamara have filed a notice of intention to sue for wrongful death, naming as defendants multiple law enforcement agencies. The suit claims that a failure to properly train law enforcement and failure to discipline Philip were causes of Tamara’s death. The lawsuit requests $10 million in damages. 

The background for this lawsuit extends back to 23 years ago, when Tamara and Philip Seidle were initially married. Divorce paperwork describes allegations of physical and emotional abuse even at the beginning of the marriage. An analysis of Neptune police records shows that, on at least 18 occasions, the police were called in response to a dispute at the Seidle family home. Despite these repeated calls, and the fact that Philip was known to his commanding officers at the Neptune Police Department as having committed acts of domestic violence and using excessive force, he was rarely disciplined and continued to carry a service weapon. On one occasion, Philip’s service weapon was taken away and he was considered unfit for duty, and he was twice suspended.

The lawsuit claims that the police department had a duty to follow proper protocol when evaluating whether Philip was fit for duty, which the department neglected, and also claims that the department did not follow state guidelines on how to handle domestic violence complaints. The lawsuit also claims that, despite the fact that a potential threat against Tamara was called in to 911 on the day of the fatal shooting, the police failed to take proper measures to ensure that Philip did not carry out his threats, and that emergency personnel mishandled the call.

While police officer liability is not so broad as to make officers liable on each occasion where police intervention could have saved a life, there is a legal responsibility to carry out responsible vetting, hiring, and disciplinary procedures in regards to their employees. If the children can prove in court that the police had a duty to act that they failed to carry out, and that their failure to properly act was a cause (albeit indirect) of Tamara’s death, then they will be entitled to damages for Tamara’s pain and suffering prior to death, lost wages, loss of support, and loss of companionship to her children.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of others, contact experienced Morristown personal injury and wrongful death law firm Smith & Doran for assistance with your claim, at 973-292-0022.

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