Family files $45M claim against Seattle in fatal Wedgwood crash
A family hit while crossing a Wedgwood street in March has filed a $45 million claim against the city of Seattle, alleging it failed to supervise Mark W. Mullan, the driver of the truck that hit them.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Members of the Schulte family say the city of Seattle is at fault for a tragic crash this spring in Northeast Seattle that killed Dennis and Judy Schulte and badly injured their daughter-in-law and 10-day-old grandson.
The city should have done more to keep Mark W. Mullan, who hit them, off the road, they said in a group of claims totaling $45 million.
Mullan failed field sobriety tests and had a preliminary breath-alcohol level of 0.22 percent, nearly three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent, shortly after he drove his pickup into the family as they crossed a Wedgwood street March 25. He was under the supervision of Seattle Municipal Court because of a previous drunken-driving arrest.
Dennis and Judy Schulte died in the collision, and Karina Ulriksen-Schulte and her infant son, Elias, were badly injured. Police say Mullan was drunk, but he had defied a court order to install an interlock device on his truck.
The claims, filed late last week, say: “Had the city of Seattle properly supervised Mr. Mullan and enforced the terms and conditions of his probation, the March 25, 2013 collision would not have occurred.”
Mullan pleaded not guilty in April to multiple charges.
Mullan, who was arrested twice in the months before the crash in Seattle and Snohomish County for driving under the influence, told officers at the scene that he had had one drink earlier and that he hadn’t seen the pedestrians because the sun was in his eyes, court documents say.
He told police he didn’t apply his brakes until he “felt the bump” of striking the pedestrians. Mullan had been ordered to install an ignition-interlock device on his pickup but had not, police said.
The baby, Elias, is at home and recovering, said John Christensen, an attorney for the family. Ulriksen-Schulte is living in a nursing-care facility, recovering, Christensen said, but relearning how to talk, swallow and walk.
The claims filed on behalf of six family members and their estates include damages for physical, mental and emotional injuries, plus medical expenses and wage losses. In all, Ulriksen-Schulte, her son, the estates of Dennis and Judy Schulte, Ulriksen-Schulte’s husband, Dan Schulte, and his sister, Marilyn Schulte, claimed $45 million.
“These amounts may seem high, but I can guarantee you, to the family, no amount of money is going to get them back to the way they were,” Christensen said.
Seattle spokeswoman Katherine Schubert-Knapp said she couldn’t comment on the claims. The city has 60 days to respond before the family can file a complaint in court. Christensen said the family is also considering legal action against Mullan.
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @EmilyHeffter. Information from The Seattle Times archives is included.