Wounded in shootout, sheriff’s deputies sue widow

Last year in Shingle Springs, Calif., a schizophrenic 34-year-old named Eddie Mies gunned down his father and then engaged in a shootout with sheriff’s deputies which resulted in his own death and the wounding of three deputies. Now two of the deputies have sued Karen Mies, mother of the slain gunman and widow of his slain father, as well as her late husband’s estate and surviving son for a combined $8 million for “for emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and punitive damages.” They claim the family should have controlled Eddie better, and say the deputies “suffered anxiety and humiliation” in addition to their physical injuries.

Attorney Phillip Mastagni of Sacramento, “whose family law firm works for police unions across Northern California”, is representing the two deputies, Jon Yaws and Greg Murphy, in the suit filed in El Dorado County. Mastagni says he is confident that the suit will overcome the “firefighters’ rule”, a doctrine that historically has barred lawsuits by public safety officers against those whose negligence has allegedly led to emergencies. The rule has decayed considerably in recent years in some jurisdictions, and suits by firefighters, police, paramedics and other rescuers have multiplied.

The defendant, Mrs. Mies, a hospice nurse, had this to say:

“June 5 was a tragic day for me and my family, and it was a tragic day for the deputies who were injured,” Karen Mies said. “We were all victims that day. But this lawsuit is victimizing our family again. What do they want? My husband’s dead, my son’s dead. Do they want my house and my 10-year-old car?”

(Dorothy Korber, “Son battled officers; now mom fights suit”, Sacramento Bee, Aug. 10). Smallest Minority (Aug. 20) is particularly intrigued by allegations of “bunkers and tunnels” supposedly maintained by the younger Mies.

Public criticism that followed initial reports of the lawsuit doesn’t seem to have softened Yaws and Murphy any: per one later account (AR15.com Forums, scroll to update at end of first entry, source not identified) they’ve upped their demand to $38.4 million. What are said to be excerpts of other recent local coverage can be found on page 6 of the same extensive comments section. And the name of the third injured deputy, the one who did not sue, deserves to be recorded in this place as well: it is Melissa Meekma. More: Pro Libertate.


  • While the dollar amount will be significantly smaller if they win, the amount is outrageous. This family obviously suffered a tragedy, but no one is allowed to suffer a tragedy in this world any longer. Anyone can suffer legal actions for the wrong-doing of anyone else. It’s a shame.

  • Mr. Olson,

    Is there a back story here involving patient’s rights?
    Did the Miles family try to get hospital care for their very sick son?

  • Why would this mother or her late husband have any duty to seek medical or psychiatric care for an adult child?

  • I find this interesting. If the police don’t have a duty to protect you as an individual, only “society”, how does the widow have a duty to protect those individual officers? You can’t have a negligence claim w/o first having a duty to that person.

  • Rather than risk injury, why didn’t they just call the police? 🙂

    I could have sworn that it was the job of the police to deal with these types of situations. Isn’t that the risk that they assume when they take the job? Will firemen now sue if you carelessly start a fire in your house and they get hurt putting it out?

  • You have a duty to report a crime or a fire. So you report the emergency, tell the FD you don’t want them to fight it b/c you are worried someone might get hurt? Better yet, you pass out liability waivers as they unload from their trucks or police cars, telling them they can’t act without signing.

    Complete madness.

  • Police, fire, ambulance and others with public service jobs are inherently dangerous activities. As a public we should see that they have adequate financial security through life-insurance, disability, and workman’s comp. It is strongly in the public interest that these guys have such reasonable coverage that they will rush toward fire, gunshots, and other hazards that the rest of us should be retreating from.
    However, those benefits should come with one big string attached; the waiver of the right to sue anyone. They can waive accepting benefits if they feel compelled to sue someone. It seems unreasonable to be doubly compensated for predictable job related events.

  • GHK,

    It is very difficult for a family to get hospitalization for their very sick children. The problem that concerns me is not the legal duty to seek care, but the legal impediments to those seeking care.

    If Eddy Mies was a threat to himself and others, then the police authorities had a duty to seek confinement. If they didn’t, then I can’t understand their claim that the family failed to control him.

  • Uhhh…what part about “sheriff’s deputy” did they miss when they applied for the job? Didn’t they realize it is a dangerous profession and that, most likely, they’d come up against a nutcase or two with a weapon?

    This is unconscionable…public servants such as police officers and firefighters should NOT be allowed to sue the public for on-the-job injuries. What would be the point of even having them if they could sue for every “emotionally distressing” incident they encountered? That’s PART OF THEIR JOB!!!

    This is just more proof that society is going downhill at an alarming rate. Everyone is out to profit, no matter how stupid the means to reap said profit may be.

  • Since the ‘game’ was started, it only makes sense for the widow to counter-sue the policemen, dept, etal. – obviously – wrongful death, loss of human comfort, companionship, etc,etc,etc for the excessive use of force (should have tazered the guy). I’d guess the municipality has deeper pockets than the widow.

  • Well suing the gunman’s estate is different from suing the widow. I don’t object at all to the suit against the estate.

  • The are not suing the gunman’s estate. They are suing the estate of the victim, the gunman’s father who was shot, and his widow.

  • People insist that this person had a disease. What disease? What test diagnoses this disease? Blood, urine, CT? Putting the label of disease on misbehavior is as American as apple pie, but scientific it ain’t.