A former Tacoma woman has been sued for defamation by the man who killed her husband in what prosecutors call a case that is the first of its kind.
Paula Henry, whose husband was murdered in September 1995, will seek to have the lawsuit against her thrown out on Friday, according to her attorney, John W. Ladenburg Sr.
Larry Shandola, who was convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison for the shooting death of Robert Henry, claims that Paula Henry unfairly prevented his transfer to a more desirable prison.
"Shandola brought suit against Paula Henry and others claiming that she violated his privacy rights, and that she intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him," Ladenburg said in a statement.
Also named in the lawsuit are two of Henry's friends and a victim's advocate, all of whom wrote letters to the Washington State Department of Corrections to prevent Shandola's transfer to a prison in his home country of Canada.
Shandola is seeking $50,000 in damages from each person.
"This shouldn't happen," an emotional Paula Henry told reporters in Tacoma Wednesday.
She has asked lawmakers in Olympia to consider a bill that would protect victims of violent crime from similar lawsuits in the future.
"This is the first time that we've seen a convicted murderer sue the spouse of the victim or anyone else from the victim's family," said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "But it will not be the last because these types of lawsuits start trends in our prison systems."
Lindquist said he will back legislation to make such lawsuits illegal. Such a bill would require convicts to seek the permission of a judge before filing any action against a victim or their family.
A fund to help Paula Henry with defense costs associated with the civil suit has been set up at Columbia Bank under the "Paula Henry Account."