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Parents allege police recklessness caused child injury

New Jersey residents who live near the Big Apple may be interested to hear about a lawsuit a family has filed against the police department there. According to the lawsuit, the police needlessly pepper-sprayed a family when the mother supposedly did not pay her fare at a subway stop.

The spray not only got in to the woman's eyes but also caused a child injury to each of her three small children who were with her when the spray got into the children's eyes as well.

Reportedly, three police officers confronted the woman claiming that she had skipped past the subway fare line without paying. She was accompanied by her children, who were 4, 2 and 5 months old. She was also traveling with the father of the children.

The lawsuit claims that the manner in which the officers approached the children scared the kids. When the woman bent down to reassure one of the children, police discharge pepper-spray in the woman's eyes, almost causing her almost to fall from the subway platform. The spray also got into the children's eyes, causing one to vomit. The suit states that ongoing treatment is necessary for the children's eye-related injuries.

While the police arrested the woman at the scene of the incident, no charges were filed.

It can be very difficult to sue government officials, especially police officers. Aside from the fact that government workers often occupy positions of power, the law usually offers them what is called "immunity" when someone gets injured while the officer is performing his or her duties. This means that the officer cannot be sued in many personal injury cases.

However, in certain situations, a family can recover compensation when a police officer or other official's negligence or, in this case, recklessness causes an injury to a person's child. Suing the government, however, can be a difficult and complicated endeavor that often involves strict deadlines and other procedural hurdles.

Source: CBS New York, "Lawsuit: cops pepper-sprayed woman, children in Brooklyn subway stop," April 2, 2013

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