By WARREN CORNWALL and SCOTT NORTH
The state of Washington has agreed to pay $8.8 million to Linda David, a woman allegedly beaten for years by her husband while the state paid him to look after her.
The settlement, one of the largest ever paid by the state in a negligence case, ended a $55 million lawsuit filed by David’s lawyer. It comes 31/2 years after David, 51, was pulled, battered and brain-damaged, from a fetid sailboat moored on the Snohomish River near Everett.
Gov. Gary Locke said the settlement should help David find the care she needs to cope with her extensive injuries.
"This settlement is to make sure she gets the care she needs for the rest of her life and to make her as whole as possible," Locke said after the settlement was announced Thursday.
Locke acknowledged the state, among others, bore responsibility for what happened to her.
"Everybody failed her, from neighbors to her husband to relatives and obviously, as I’ve said before, some of our case workers were not as vigilant as they could have been," he said.
David’s husband, Victor David, 60, was arrested in May 1999. He remains behind bars, charged with second-degree assault against his wife, felony weapons violations and misdemeanor mistreatment of the five German shepherd dogs that he kept on his sailboat. Trial is scheduled for mid-September.
Prosecutors claim David hid his wife away on his sailboat, abusing her in secret for years. David has said he is innocent.
The alleged abuse left Linda David with scars on her face, her ears cauliflowered and her senses scrambled. She remains at an area nursing home.
For at least a dozen years leading up to her discovery on the boat, the Department of Social and Health Services paid for Victor David to care for his wife, said David Walsh, a state deputy attorney general who was the state’s lead attorney in the settlement talks.
"There were warning signals during that period of time."
Given her massive injuries, Walsh said the state would have run the risk of a larger jury award if it went to trial.
Pierce County was also represented in the settlement talks, which wrapped up in San Francisco on Wednesday under the guidance of a professional mediator, Antonio Piazza. Walsh declined to say if Pierce County agreed to pay any money as part of the settlement.
Pierce County officials could not be reached for comment.
DSHS has come under fire in recent years for its handling of several cases.
The state is currently contesting a $17.8 million verdict in Pierce County that would be the largest jury verdict paid by the state in such a case. The jury awarded the money to three disabled men who were reportedly abused at a group home licensed by the state.
In addition, Locke said the new DSHS Secretary, Dennis Braddock, has acknowledged the state may have made mistakes in the case of a 3-year-old Tacoma girl killed earlier this year.
The department had returned the girl to her mother after she was taken away at birth.
Locke said Braddock would be focused on reforming the massive state agency.
"We’re willing to take responsibility for failures of our employees, and he’s on a mission to change the corporate culture and the attitude," Locke said.
You can call Herald Writer Warren Cornwall at 425-339-3463 or send e-mail
You can call Herald Writer Scott North at 425-339-3431or send e-mail