Fergus suit trial delayed again
Published 5:00 pm, Wednesday, September 10, 2014
There has been yet another delay in stabbing victim Catherine Fergus' suit against the town of New Milford going to jury trial.
Fergus had filed suit against the town in 2010.
She claimed New Milford police were negligent in not preventing a 2009 knife attack by her estranged husband, Neil Fergus, and that the couple's two oldest children suffered emotional distress by witnessing the attack.
Neil Fergus was sentenced in October 2012 to a 30-year prison term, to be suspended after 13 years, followed by probation for the 2009 stabbing attempt on his wife's life.
The latest was a July 9 request for a summary judgment, in which the judge would decide the suit without a trial.
The case was scheduled to go to jury trial Tuesday, Sept. 16.
Shortly before the Nov. 14, 2009, attack, Catherine Fergus had called New Milford police to complain her estranged husband had phoned her several times and threatened her.
The suit claims the town is liable for negligence for the attack based on the handling of her call to police that day by former New Milford police officer Daniel Wilczek.
The suit claims Wilczek's handling of the call was discretionary and negligent and thus caused Neil Fergus to commit the assault.
"It is inconceivable that a trained police officer would call an insane man who recently threatened his estranged wife, and alert him that he was about to be arrested," said attorney Joel Faxon, who is representing Catherine Fergus in the suit.
"(Fictional TV character) Barney Fife would know that the insane man's next move would be to go attack the woman again," Faxon added.
Tallberg acknowledges, following Catherine Fergus' call, Wilczek didn't review a police report from a previous incident that had occurred in December 2008, in which Neil Fergus had chased her with a kitchen knife and threatened her life -- resulting in a protective order against Fergus.
Still, Tallberg claims "The town is immune from liability" because "it could not have been apparent to a reasonable officer in Wilczek's position that his ... conduct would subject the plaintiff (Catherine Fergus) to the unprecedented and tragic attack by Mr. Fergus," the July 9 motion for summary judgment reads.
Tallberg bases this claim on a March state Supreme Court ruling in which the court found what can be considered "apparent" to a public employee when he or she acts is limited in scope.
Catherine Fergus could not be reached for comment.