The family torn apart by a deadly drunk driving crash in Northeast Seattle has filed $45 million in claims against the City of Seattle, arguing it failed to supervise the repeat drunk driver that plowed into them as they crossed the street.
Mark W. Mullan, 50, faces two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, and one count of reckless driving for the March collision.
Judith, 68, and Dennis Schulte, 66, were killed while crossing a street near Eckstein Middle School in the Wedgwood neighborhood. Their daughter-in-law, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, and 10-day-old grandson, Elias, were critically injured as they took their first walk since the baby was born.
"They knew he was a dangerous offender," says John Christensen, family attorney. "They had several conditions on his being released back into the community and frankly didn't follow up with any of those conditions to make sure he was abiding by those."
Mullan was driving without a valid license and without a court-ordered ignition interlock device at the time of the crash in the same truck he was arrested for driving drunk Dec. 25 in Seattle.
He has three prior convictions for DUI and a pending DUI case in Snohomish County. Court documents say his blood alcohol level was .22 at the time of the crash, nearly three times the legal limit.
"What resulted was a family having their complete existence and their lives shattered forever," Christensen says.
Seattle attorney Anne Bremner told the Morning News on KIRO Radio that currently, state authorities don't have a duty to make sure an ignition interlock device has been installed.
"It comes down to the privilege to drive. You have a conditional license with the DUI at least in the instance the condition is, you have an interlock. As far as the government knows, you're only driving if you have an interlock."
The claim is a prerequisite for a future lawsuit against the city if a settlement can't be reached within 60 days.
The claims, totaling $45 million, include damages for physical, mental and emotional injuries, plus medical expenses and wage losses for Ulriksen-Schulte and her son, the estates of Dennis and Judy Schulte, Ulriksen- Schulte's husband, Dan, and his sister, Marilyn Schulte.
"It's hard to comprehend how dollar amounts can equate to the type of tragedy this family has had rained down on them," Christensen says.
Baby Elias continues to recover and is being cared for by his father at home. Ulriksen-Schulte remains at an advanced nursing care facility in Seattle, where she is expected to remain for "some time" because of the extent of her injuries, according to Christensen.
Mullen remains jailed after pleading not guilty in April to multiple charges.
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