Rome attorney Steve Lanier has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jamie Leigh Dunaway, mother of Madison Jade Conway.
Madison was 5 on Aug. 21, 2010, when the car her mother was driving was struck by Honda motorcycle driven by Eric Horton, 40, of Silver Creek.
Horton died at Floyd Medical Center days later.
The lawsuit claims that the high speed pursuit of two motorcyclists, including Horton, directly led to the child’s death.
Lanier says in the lawsuit that the motorcyclists were traveling at 130 to 140 mph with an officer in pursuit on Haywood Valley Road near Ga. 156.
The lawsuit also alleges that the officer, Mike Studdard, who is not named as a defendant, “had become fixated on apprehending the fleeing motorcyclist, he failed to weigh the risks to the public involved in continuing his pursuit.”
Floyd County Police Sgt. Greg Beck told the Rome News-Tribune just days after the incident that the pursing officer was a half mile behind the Horton when the wreck occurred.
Maj. Mark Wallace, with the Floyd County Police Department, said Thursday that based on his recollection of the event there was a “large gap between the officer and the motorcyclists.”
Wallace said because of pending litigation, he could not comment further on the case.
The lawsuit also alleges that the officer violated high-speed pursuit policies by pursuing a suspect for a minor traffic violation.
The two motorcyclists had earlier been clocked driving 80 in a 54 mph zone.
Floyd County Police Standard Operating Procedures states that “the responsibility for the decision to pursue and the methods to be employed during pursuits rests initially with the individual officer.”
Officers are also required to take in to account time of day, nature of the crime, speed involved and whether there is a real or apparent emergency.
Lanier argues that catching a person speeding does not constitute an emergency.
“Clearly the pursuit policy should not put anyone in danger,” Lanier said. “Had the county had a better policy, Maddie would still be alive.”
Conway is seeking to “recover the full value of the life of her deceased child,” Lanier says in the suit and is asking for no less than $5 million for wrongful death and $1 million in pain and suffering.
Lanier said his client sustained mental anguish and emotional suffering as she “observed her daughter’s lingering death following the collision.”
Assistant County Manager Blaine Williams said Thursday he had not seen the lawsuit.
County Manager Kevin Poe and Floyd County Police Chief Bill Shiflett could not be reached for comment.