OGDEN -- The Utah Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in a negligence suit against the city and a police officer involving a car accident in which two people died.
In its opinion released Friday, the high court concluded that the attorney representing Ogden City unfairly prejudiced the jury against the woman who died in the crash.
On Dec. 12, 2005, Bob Ellis and his driver, Jessica Nelson, were killed after an Ogden police officer ended his high-speed chase of a suspect, who broadsided the victims' car moments later.
Nelson's mother Theresa sued the city and the officer for negligence and sought damages.
The case went to trial but the jury ruled against Theresa Nelson.
The Utah Supreme Court reviewed the case and decided that the city's attorney, Heather White, unfairly prejudiced the jury against Jessica Nelson by raising questions about her character when she questioned the mother.
"Her questioning of Theresa reveals that Ms. White surrendered, without resistance, to the impulse to win her case by bludgeoning the character of the dead," the opinion of the court reads. "She pursued this course of action undeterred by court orders that unequivocally forbade her chosen course of action. We condemn Ms White's conduct."
The Supreme Court ordered the new trial, but did not rule whether the city was negligent. The justices only concluded that the city does not have immunity by virtue of its vehicle pursuit policy.