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Family Files Lawsuit Against City of Seattle over Fatal DUI Crash – Precedent Setting?

City of Seattle being sued for $45 million over DUI crash
(thinkstock images)

Civil lawsuits over DUI cases are not necessarily new, but suing a city?

A huge $45 million dollar lawsuit has been filed against the City of Seattle over a horrific crash that killed 68-year-old Judith and 68-year-old Dennis Schulte who died in March of this year after being struck by a drunk driver.  They were crossing a street in the Wedgewood Neighborhood of Seattle, and their daughter-in-law Karina Ulricksen-Schulte and her 10-day-old son were seriously injured in the incident.

The driver, 50-year-old Mark W. Mullan, is facing multiple vehicular homicide charges. Records show he had three previous DUI convictions, and one pending in Snohomish County.  The attorney for the Schulte family says the city was negligent in releasing Mullan into the community and failed to recognize the threat he posed.   He has since pleaded not guilty.  He was arrested December 25th for DUI in Seattle and was driving without a valid license or an interlock device in his vehicle.

According to the KIRO radio website mynorthwest.com:

“Seattle attorney Anne Bremner told the Morning News on KIRO Radio that currently, state authorities don’t have a duty to make sure an ignition interlock device has been installed.

“It comes down to the privilege to drive. You have a conditional license with the DUI at least in the instance the condition is, you have an interlock. As far as the government knows, you’re only driving if you have an interlock.”

The claim is a prerequisite for a future lawsuit against the city if a settlement can’t be reached within 60 days.”

It is believed this is the first time a major municipality has been sued for alleged misconduct over monitoring a convicted DUI offender.   While many expect the city to settle,  if not,  some legal experts say this could set precedent for future similar DUI lawsuits.

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