Washington Case Law Update: Wrongful Death Claim Accrued Upon Murderer’s Conviction

Attorney Profile Case Update Template -2016 Kyle

Wrongful Death Claim Accrued Upon Murderer’s Conviction

From the Desk of Kyle D. Riley: Claims that are subject to a discovery rule do not accrue until the plaintiff knows or should have known of the facts that make up the essential elements of the claim.  In some wrongful death claims arising out of murder, the identity of the murderer may be one of those facts because it provides the basis of a negligent supervision claim against the state.  But when should a plaintiff know the identity of the murderer to determine whether there is a claim? Read on to find out.

Claims Pointer: In this wrongful death claim arising out of the negligent supervision of a man who allegedly violated his probation prior to committing murder, the Washington Court of Appeals held that it was not until the man was convicted of murder that the plaintiffs should have known his identity.  This ruling clarifies a key element of wrongful death claims based on negligent supervision.

Brown v. State of Washington, Department of Corrections, No. 73206-4-I, Washington Court of Appeals, Division 1 (December 27, 2016) (unpublished)

Alajawan Brown (“Alajawan”), a twelve-year old boy, was shot and killed on April 29, 2010, and on June 17, 2010, Washington State filed criminal charges against Curtis Walker (“Walker”).  Walker pleaded not guilty and asserted he did not shoot Alajawan.  Following a three-week trial beginning in January 2012, Walker was convicted of murder in the first degree and unlawful possession of a weapon.

On November 24, 2014, Alajawan’s parents, Anyanna Brown and Louis Brown (“Browns”), filed a wrongful death action against the State of Washington Department of Corrections (“DOC”) alleging DOC negligently supervised Walker.  The lawsuit alleged that had the DOC done its job properly, Walker would have been in prison on April 29, 2010, and he would not have been able to shoot the Browns’ son.  The Browns also alleged that they first learned that...

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