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Archive for September, 2012


William,* a long time client of our firm, had called numerous times over the last several years, inquiring about the wisdom of executing a new will. William had been advised repeatedly to make an appointment and a new will could be easily constructed to meet his testamentary plan.  Sadly, William passed away on September 5, 2006 without changing or modifying his previous will which was executed on February 15, 1988.

William’s will left the majority of his estate to his children from his first marriage and a minor gift to Mary,* his then business associate.  Mary and William subsequently married in 1991 and worked together to build and expand their insurance brokerage business until they sold it in 2003.

Following William’s death, some of William’s children believed that Mary should receive only the minor gift left to her in William’s 1988 will. On behalf of Mary and the estate, Attorney John J. Durkin pursued a course in the probate establishing Mary as an “omitted” spouse, thereby qualifying her to receive all the community property acquired by William and Mary during the time of the marriage along with one half of William’s separate property. After the court reaffirmed the decision regarding Mary’s status as an omitted spouse, the dispute with the children was resolved favorably.

Estate Planning Attorney in Tacoma Family Will

If you do not have a will, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our Estate Planning Attorney’s for the purpose of reviewing and/or creating your estate plan. If you believe your will is outdated or if your family circumstance have changed due to divorce, marriage, or death of a loved one, our attorneys are available to assist you in completing a new will tailored to your individual estate plan. We can also prepare Community Property Agreements, Power of Attorneys and Health Care Directives.

*Client names have been changed for this article.

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Dog Bite Injury Tacoma

September 18, 2012 by

$2.2 Million Verdict for Dog Bite Injuries in Tacoma

On August 21, 2007, at approximately 8:30 a.m., Sue Gorman was sleeping in her bed in her Gig Harbor home.  She was awakened by the snarling and growling of two pit bulls, Betty and her son Tank, who had come in through an open pet door and made their way to Sue’s bedroom.  Sue’s service dog, Misty, managed to escape immediately, but the pit bulls pounced on Sue’s bed and began attacking her before she could get up.  Betty immediately bit into Sue’s left arm and began shaking her head, tearing into Sue’s flesh and causing a gaping wound.  

The attack continued for 20 long minutes as Sue got out of bed and was trapped.  She tried to protect a neighbor’s dog that had been sleeping in the bed and move towards the doorway of her bedroom, but the pit bulls blocked her escape.  Sue tried to get out a gun that she had under the night stand, but it jammed.  Sue tried hitting the pit bulls with a walking stick, but it did not phase them, and they continued to bite Sue’s hands.

Betty was particularly vicious, jumping up and biting Sue’s face, arms, and breasts.  Sue felt herself getting weaker and recalls an instant where she realized that Betty was trying to “bring her down” so she could get at her throat.  Sue knew that she had to get out of her house or she would die.

Her opportunity came when Betty turned to help Tank finish off the neighbor’s dog.  Sue managed to grab her telephone as she escaped through her back door and called for help.  She was rushed to the hospital with 20-30 bite wounds which required two surgeries over the next three days.  She received 27 stitches to her facial wounds alone.  Her arms were so torn up that a paramedic testified that Sue looked like she had “pieces of meat hanging from her arms” in the ambulance. 

Sue was left with over $94,000 in medical bills; permanent scarring, muscle and tissue loss, and loss of strength in the left arm; and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder which required a year of psychotherapy.  The neighbor’s dog died shortly after the attack.  The pit bulls were ultimately euthanized.

On July 21, 2011, Mike McKasy and Shelly Speir started Sue’s trial against Shellie Wilson and Zachary Martin, the owners of Betty; Jacqueline Evans-Hubbard, the owner of Tank; and Pierce County.  The trial lasted 10 days including interruptions to accommodate the judge’s docket and a day of vacation for the Pierce County prosecutor.

At the conclusion, the jury awarded all of Sue’s past medical expenses, $12,300 for future medical expenses, and $2.1 million in non-economic damages.  All 12 jurors concurred in the dollar amounts awarded.

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Virginia G. Heidbreder was born on November 27, 1921 and is currently 89 years of age.

She is a widow and had been a school teacher inCloverPark, first in the junior high school and later in senior high.  She taught English, College Prep, Preparatory Writing and Drama, directing the school’s plays and musicals.  She retired in 1978 and currently resides atPointDefianceVillageinTacomaand helps to edit the newsletter there.

 Another resident ofPointDefianceVillageused to ride around the facility on a motorized chair or scooter called a “Jazzy.”  This was a heavy metal vehicle that approximated the weight of a motorcycle.  It was very dangerous to be transporting around without proper control.

 The resident driving the scooter suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s disease.  Unfortunately, on August 5, 2009, he struckVirginia, as she was walking along a hallway with her walker, with his motorized scooter.

 Dr. Arthur J. Ozolin of Tacoma Orthopedic Surgeons, on August 18, 2009, noted “the patient had a recent injury to her left ankle and leg on 8/5/09 when she was dragged by a motorized wheelchair with her walker, somehow straining the left leg with then subsequently increasing swelling and redness…”  His impression was chronic cellulitis of the left leg with recent aggravation status post multiple left foot and leg surgery.

 The left ankle and leg began swelling and became red and painful.

 Virginia also suffered from back pain after the incident.  An x-ray was taken of the low back on August 23, 2009 that showed a compression deformity of L4.  A later CT scan confirmed a L4 compression fracture.

 On September 4, 2009, vetebroplasty surgery for the L4 fracture vertebrae was performed at Tacoma General.  That surgery consists of basically gluing the fractured vertebra back together.

 On September 5, 2009,Virginiawas admitted toUniversityPlaceCareCenterto recover from her surgery and injuries.  On October 17, 2009, she was transported back toPoint Defiance Village. 

The services that she had at University Place Care Center included physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Virginiais now back at Point Defiance Village and has resumed many of her activities, but her mobility has been more limited now due to the injury.  Her case was recently settled byMike McKasyof our firm for $95,000.00

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