Local News

Judge to decide on lawsuit against Franklinton police

Posted May 19, 2009 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2009 10:50 p.m. EDT

— A judge will decide if a lawsuit involving a wreck that killed two sisters should move forward against the Franklinton Police Department or be dismissed.

There's no timeframe on when Superior Court Judge Shannon Joseph must rule.

Linsay Lunsford, 18, and Maggie Lunsford, 9, were on their way home from a Wal-Mart shopping trip on Dec. 1, 2007, when, Guy Christopher Ayscue slammed his car head-on into theirs.

Both girls and Ayscue died in the wreck.

Franklinton police officer Michael Dunlap was pursuing Ayscue at the time of the collision. According to a Highway Patrol investigation, the 15-mile chase reached speeds of up to 90 mph, 35 mph above the posted speed limit.

That violated Franklinton police policy that pursuits shouldn't exceed 20 mph above the posted speed limit, the Lunsfords' attorney, Trey Duckworth, said Tuesday.

The Lunsfords claimed gross negligence on Dunlap's part. They filed suit against him as well as Franklinton's police chief, the town of Franklinton and Ayscue's estate.

Duckworth said that Dunlap did not consider surrounding conditions at the time – a high volume of traffic following a Christmas parade that day and other vehicles running off the road to avoid Ayscue.

William Hill, who represented the town of Franklinton, cited numerous cases involving similar high-speed chases in which officers were found not to be negligent. He argued the town is not liable for the girls' deaths.

The Lunsfords' lawsuit said Ayscue was also responsible for the sisters' deaths, having operated his vehicle "carelessly" and in "wanton disregard" of others on a highway without "due caution."