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Sunday, September 18, 2005

$75M lawusit is settled for $12M, some promises, & provisions

In the end, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame,
and his wife,

Crystal Judson,
who was trying to divorce him and achieve an abuse-free life for her and their children.

City, family settle Brame lawsuit
$12 million deal honors Crystal, protects public disclosure

The News Tribune
September 13th, 2005
The money won’t bring Crystal Judson back. But a settlement agreement between her family and the City of Tacoma enshrines her name at a planned center devoted to assisting domestic violence victim. It ends the long-running wrongful-death suit stemming from the shootings of April 26, 2003, when Police Chief David Brame fatally shot his wife and himself. It also pays $12 million to the family, including the couple’s two orphaned children and their aunt and uncle. And finally, it ensures that fact-finding and public disclosure will continue. The City Council approved the settlement unanimously Tuesday, but it still requires a judge’s endorsement. The city will pay $1 million toward the settlement. Insurance will pick up the rest, city leaders said. Separately, city leaders have agreed to name a planned county-city domestic violence center after Crystal Judson. Judson was Crystal Brame’s maiden name. The justice center would include her name on a plaque, and her name would also be used on letterhead and Internet sites used by the center. “This is a good day for us in Tacoma,” said City Councilman Tom Stenger. “It’s a blessing.” Stenger publicly thanked the Judson family for staying true to their stated goal: the truth, and systematic changes within the City of Tacoma. Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg said the city’s work is not done. She promised to continue efforts to provide a safe environment for all victims of domestic violence. Added Mayor Bill Baarsma: “My feeling is this is a very fair settlement. The most important thing is it meets the needs of the Judson children, and it puts this tragic chapter behind us”... [Full article here]

Brame case to cost Tacoma
Seattle Times
By Jennifer Sullivan
September 14, 2005
..."The family feels they have accomplished their goal, which was to achieve the truth," attorney Paul Luvera said. "They are also very proud of the fact that a family-justice center in their daughter's name has been called for under the agreement"... [Full article here]

Settlement of Brame suit proves unusual
The News Tribune
Karen Hucks karen.hucks@thenewstribune.com 253-597-8660
September 18th, 2005
...Some lawyers say that language in the settlement might allow future city councils to wiggle out of their responsibility over time and that some changes already were under way. But others say the city’s promises were quite a success for the family; it’s legal language that will keep the city paying attention. The agreement requires the city and police department to “make reasonable efforts” to improve the city Code of Ethics, obtain police accreditation, set up the Citizens Oversight Committee and a citizen advisory panel, heed an outside audit and establish policies for psychological screening of police recruits... Because the settlement has legal clout, if the family thought the city wasn’t following through, they could go back to court... Seattle personal injury lawyer Karen Koehler said one of the family’s biggest successes is changing public opinion about what the city and police force should do to prevent a situation like the Brame killings. “They’re not in a position to legislate or say, ‘If you fail to do this, 20 lashes,’” Koehler said. “But if the city doesn’t follow through with what they’ve said they’ll do, they (have to answer to) the citizens”... [Full article here]
[officer-involved domestic violence]

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