Judson family serves Tacoma with lawsuit

The family of Crystal Brame on Wednesday filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Tacoma stemming from the April 26 shootings when Tacoma Police Chief David Brame fatally shot his wife and then killed himself.

Mayor Bill Baarsma delivered the following address at a Wednesday press conference:

“The City of Tacoma was served today with a lawsuit by Paul Luvera, the attorney representing the Judson family on its claim against the city.

“We were surprised and disappointed by this step. I am personally saddened. I believe in my heart and soul that we made a good faith effort to resolve this issue in a positive way for everyone.

“We are disappointed that the Judsons said the reason for moving toward filing a lawsuit was due to the city’s delay in responding to their claim, when we responded just 19 days after the family filed its revised claim.

“The city responded with a substantial financial settlement offer for the Judsons and attempted to gain a clear understanding of the non-monetary demands the Judsons included in their claim.

“The only response we received from the attorneys representing the Judsons was a request for more information and we promptly responded to that request.

“On Oct. 3, we sent a fax to the attorney representing the Judsons reinforcing the city’s desire to settle the claim and avoid a lawsuit. We expressed interest in meeting with a moderator or facilitator to discuss the non-monetary demands within the lawsuit.

“Meeting the Judson’s non-monetary demands required a clear understanding of the family’s expectations and would require a thoughtful, thorough, public process in order to be meaningful.

“The response we received came in this afternoon in the form of a lawsuit.

“The City of Tacoma is not responsible for David Brame shooting his wife Crystal. We will aggressively defend that position in litigation.

“The City of Tacoma has continued to focus on improving domestic violence response. We will continue the WASPC investigation to get a better understanding of our hiring and promotional policies and practices. The police department is also actively studying improvements in internal policies and procedures. And, we will hold ourselves and our employees accountable for those policies and practices.

“While we have pursued the option of settling the Judson’s claim, we have an obligation to the citizens of Tacoma to protect the financial resources they provide for city services. Under no conditions will we compromise that obligation. If that means standing up in a court of law to defend the city against misdirected blame, that is what we will do.”

Judson claim correspondence timeline
– Sept. 23, 2003: City Council acted to authorize the city’s counsel to respond to the Judson family’s settlement offer.

– Sept. 24, 2003: Tim Gosselin, an attorney representing the city, wrote Paul Luvera communicating the City Council’s authorization.

– Sept. 25, 2003: Letter from Judson attorney David Benninger to Mr. Gosselin thanking him for his letter “responding to our claim.”

– Oct. 3, 2003: Tim Gosselin wrote David Benninger responding to requests for insurance information and also to Mr. Benninger’s letter of Sept. 25. Mr. Gosselin provided clarification about the Council’s acceptance of the principles of full disclosure, of individual accountability, establishment of policies and procedures, and how that related to indemnity. Mr. Gosselin closed by offering to meet and discuss the Judson’s non-monetary demands.