[nfbwatlk] Woman blinded in attack to get $5.5 million, Seattle Times, October 8 2009

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Fri Oct 9 15:53:42 UTC 2009



Woman blinded in attack to get $5.5 million
By Charles E. Brown
Seattle Times staff reporter

A former King County health-clinic worker stabbed three years ago by a psychotic woman will get the lion's share of a $6 million settlement from the local nonprofit agency delegated to monitor the client's mental health.

Maritza Dowe, an administrative assistant at the Public Health - Seattle & King County clinic on Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle, lost her eyesight in July 2006, after she was stabbed repeatedly with a butcher knife by the schizophrenic client who had a history of assaultive behavior.

According to Dowe's lawyers, Seattle-based Community Psychiatric Clinic failed to properly treat client Marilyn Walker after her release from Western State Hospital in Steilacoom. Walker had been committed for treatment in 2001 after she became psychotic and assaulted a roommate, attacked a police officer, and doused an H&R Block tax preparer with gasoline in an attempt to set him on fire.

Walker had been released from Western State and was on behavior-altering medication when she attacked Dowe at the downtown health clinic on July 17, 2006. Dowe was on the job; Walker was there for a dental appointment.

An attorney for Dowe, Jack Connelly, of Tacoma, said the attack was unprovoked. According to Connelly, Community Psychiatric Clinic staff and doctors had failed to review Walker's records and monitor her medication levels.

The attack left Dowe, now 52, blind in one eye and with limited vision in the other eye immediately after the attack. After multiple surgeries, she lost sight in both eyes.

In a criminal trial, Walker was found not guilty by reason of insanity and returned to Western State Hospital.

Community Psychiatric Clinic faced a civil suit by the Dowe family for negligence.

The case was scheduled to go to trial Monday in King County Superior Court before the settlement was reached earlier this week.

Connelly said the $6 million settlement will be paid by CPC's insurance carrier, AIG, to help cover Dowe's lost wages and medical and psychological care.

Included is a $500,000 award to Ramona Garza, who also worked at the downtown health clinic at the time of the attack.

Garza's attorney, Thaddeus Martin, of Tacoma, said his client suffers severe post-traumatic stress disorder and has been unable to work as a result of witnessing the aftermath of the attack on Dowe.

Attorneys for Community Psychiatric Clinic could not be reached for comment.

Charles E. Brown: 206-464-2206 or cbrown at seattletimes.com

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