More MS news articles for October 1999

Woman Sues State for Alleged Abuse

October 2, 1999
Filed at 5:45 a.m. EDT

By The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A disabled woman whose husband allegedly held her captive on a putrid sailboat while he collected state checks as her caregiver has filed a $55 million claim against the state.

Linda David accuses the Department of Social and Health Services and agency caseworkers of ``gross negligence and deliberate indifference'' to more than a decade of abuse, allegedly at the hands of her husband, Victor David.

Her claim lays out a pattern of caseworkers and doctors noticing signs of abuse over her 15 years as a client of the DSHS, but failing to take corrective action.

Filing the claim is the first step toward suing DSHS in state court. Agency spokesman Gordon Schultz said the department cannot comment on pending litigation

Mrs. David, 51, was rescued by Everett police in January 1997. Authorities found her jammed into the bow of the boat, covered with vomit, surrounded by dog excrement, and unable to move. Her nose was broken and her limbs deformed by repeated fractures.

David was arrested in May and is being held in the Snohomish County Jail on charges including second-degree assault. He has denied the abuse, saying his wife suffers from multiple sclerosis. A competency hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Mrs. David's claim, filed Friday with the state Division of Risk Management, said she suffered physical and emotional damage ``directly related to the physical, emotional and mental torture she sustained while a client of DSHS.''

From the mid-1980s until 1997, Mrs. David lived on her husband's filthy 30-foot sailboat with large German shepherds. For much of that time, caseworkers were suspicious that she was being abused and raised questions, but ultimately didn't act on their suspicions, her lawyer said. Workers stopped visiting the boat in 1988 and stopped checking on her altogether in 1993.

Forty months later, she was finally rescued. Today, she's in a nursing home, suffering from brain damage and blind in one eye and with only partial vision in the other. She uses a wheelchair and can't eat, wash or use a restroom by herself.

DSHS Secretary Lyle Quasim initially defended his agency, saying he could find nothing caseworkers had done incorrectly.

But Gov. Gary Locke said the system, including state social workers, local police and lawyers, had failed Mrs. David.