Arrest By Idaho Trooper On Washington Border Creates Jurisdictional Toss-Up

May 5, 2016

If an Idaho state trooper stops an Idaho driver just across the Washington state line and a lawsuit ensues—whose case is it? The Washington Supreme Court Thursday said it’s basically a legal coin toss. 

The case dates to the evening of April 30, 2010. That’s when Idaho Trooper Allen Ashby followed an erratically driven car as it crossed into Washington. The driver exited Interstate 90 and started heading back towards Idaho on a side road.

Trooper Ashby stopped the car thinking the driver might be drunk.

Dash cam video posted on YouTube shows what happened next.

"Get out of the car," Ashby says in the video, which shows the driver, Kay Pruczinski, leaving her window and door closed and asking for a female officer.

Instead Trooper Ashby smashes out the window and pulls her out of the car.

"Oh my God," Pruczinski can be heard saying.

Eventually things calmed down. Later, Ashby is heard asking his supervisor, "We’re in Idaho, correct?"

"Yes, we are in Idaho," another officer responds.

But were they? A later survey determined they were 15.8 feet inside Washington's border.

Ultimately Trooper Ashby concluded Pruczinski wasn’t drunk, but he still booked her for obstruction.

Two years later, Pruczinski filed a civil lawsuit in Spokane County Superior Court against Trooper Ashby for personal injury and property damage.

The trial court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

But now the Washington Supreme Court has said the facts of the case support jurisdiction in either Washington or Idaho. So it’s back to the trial court, which will decide whether to decline jurisdiction or hear the case.