SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A judge ruled Tuesday that former Rep. Bill Janklow (search) was on duty when he caused a deadly traffic accident, meaning taxpayers would have to pay for any civil damages in a wrongful-death lawsuit.
U.S. Magistrate Arthur Boylan sided with a federal prosecutor's conclusion that Janklow, 64, was on official business Aug. 16, 2003, when he sped through a stop sign on a rural road and collided with motorcyclist Randy Scott (search).
Janklow had appointments or appearances over two days around the state and was on his way home when the accident occurred. Boylan concluded that Janklow did not stop at his mother's home in nearby Flandreau minutes before the accident.
"Even assuming he had stopped to visit his mother ... the diversion would have been inconsequential in this instance," Boylan wrote.
Boylan, ruling in St. Paul (search), Minn., concluded the federal government should be listed as the defendant in the lawsuit filed by Scott's family members, who are from Minnesota.
Lawyer Ronald Meshbesher wanted the case moved to state court in Minnesota so the family could get punitive damages, which is not allowed in federal court. He said he will appeal.
"The gist of the ruling is that he was acting within the scope of employment," he said. "And the fact that he was convicted of a criminal act did not take him out of the scope of employment because it was foreseeable that his employer, whoever that might be, would have expected a traffic accident."
Janklow, elected to Congress in 2002 after serving a total of 16 years as governor, spent 100 days in jail after his manslaughter conviction in the highway death. He resigned from Congress in January.
His lawyer, William Fuller, and Scott's mother, Marcella Scott, did not want to comment Tuesday. Janklow could not be reached for comment.