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$900,000 Settlement in Washington State Suit Over Parolee Murdering Woman

On December 10, 2008, Washington State agreed to a $900,000 settlement in a suit alleging negligent supervision of a violent parolee who murdered a woman.

Laurence Owens, a level 3 sex offender and violent felon, was under the supervision of the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC). Owens had a long and violent history of criminal offenses, especially violent offenses toward women. He was known to carry weapons and DOC documents stated that his “violence is ongoing and seems to be growing, it’s only a period of time before he explodes.” The DOC classified him at the highest risk level for commission of additional violent crimes. Nonetheless, the DOC’s parole specialist never visited Owens in his domicile or asked him about women who might be at risk of future attacks.

Owens shot and killed Dori Cordova, a young mother of minor child Troy Phillips. Margaret Balderama witnessed the murder. Seattle police shot and killed Owens.

Diana Lynn is Cordova’s aunt and the representative of Cordova’s estate and guardian ad litem for Phillips. She and Balderama filed suit in state court against the state and the DOC alleging gross negligence in the supervision of Owens, negligence in the implementation and enforcement of Owens’s parole plan and a failure to warn Cordova about Owens caused the death of Cordova and assault of Balderama, who was allegedly assaulted by the shooting.

Washington settled the claims for the estate and Phillips for $900,000, all of which is to be paid to Phillips. The payments included a lump sum of $374,000 and future lump sums and annual payments totaling $900,000, the last of which is in 2024.

Apparently this does not settle Balderama’s assault claim. Plaintiffs were represented by Tacoma attorney Thaddeus P. Martin. See: Lynn v. State, King County Superior Court, Case No. 06-2-285l6-6SEA.

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Related legal case

Lynn v. State,

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.