February 1, 2012

An $8 million wrongful death suit was filed in Multnomah County, Ore., Circuit Court on Feb. 9, 2012, by the relatives of two 53-year-old women slain in a 2010 murder-suicide in Gresham, Ore. The person who caused the deaths – and also that of his wife – was a 47-year-old Clackamas County deputy sheriff who was legally drunk at the time. After shooting the three victims, the sheriff shot himself.

A wrongful death action is a type of civil personal injury lawsuit for the loved ones of a person who was killed by the negligent or intentional act of another. The two women whose families filed the lawsuit were essentially bystanders to a violent confrontation in a restaurant between the sheriff and his wife.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Clackamas County and three members of county law enforcement – a sheriff, undersheriff and lieutenant – who had supervisory responsibility of the perpetrator.

In 2009 before this incident, the Portland Police Bureau did an investigation of the sheriff who killed the three. Relatives at that time apparently revealed that he had problems with domestic abuse, alcohol and drugs, and suicidal ideation.

Law enforcement reportedly did not press criminal charges because the assailant’s wife would not speak about her spouse.

The wrongful death complaint alleges that the killer had a “violent disposition,” was “emotionally unstable and suicidal,” and had issues with spousal abuse, alcohol and drugs.

The $8 million in damages sought by the two families are for:

  • $3.5 million for each family for “loss of companionship and pain and suffering”
  • Almost $1 million for “lost earnings and expenses” by both families together

The county is not making a statement until the lawsuit is resolved.

Source: The Gresham Outlook, “Lawsuit filed in murder-suicide,” Jim Hart, Feb. 10, 2012


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