SEATTLE -- It was five years ago when the lives of a family were changed forever. Back in 2013 a mother, her 10-day-old son and her in-laws were hit by a drunken driver in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood.
On Tuesday, the Schulte family and the city of Seattle announced they have settled a lawsuit out of court for $13 million -- $6.5 million coming from the city, and the rest coming from the city’s insurance carriers.
“I don`t think I’ve ever seen the scope of almost three generations of family being taken out at one time,” said attorney John Christensen. “From a family`s perspective it was one of relief and of assurance knowing that dan will be able to take care of his family.”
It was back on March 25, 2013, living in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood at the time, Karina Schulte, their 10-day old son Elias, and Karina's in-laws were simply crossing the street at Northeast 75th and 33rd Avenue when they were hit by a repeat drunken driver, Mark Mullan.
Dan Schulte reflected about that time to us, a couple of years ago.
“The cost to us is extraordinarily high,” he said. “And it will be for the rest of our lives.”
The driver also killed Dan's parents Dennis and Judy Schulte on impact, and left Karina and Elias with permanent and disabling injuries. According to Christensen, the Schultes now live in the Lake Stevens area, with Elias needing round-the-clock care.
“He will never be able to care for himself, as far as eating, drinking, taking care of changing clothes stuff like that,” said Christensen.
The lawsuit blamed the city for not enforcing Mullan's probationary conditions from previous DUI cases, which included requiring for him to have an alcohol-sensor ignition lock. It was never installed. It also said that probation officers didn’t examine Mullan’s previous cases.
“They took a priority over rehabilitation, believing the defender, versus what we think they should've done which was protecting the public from the dangerous propensity of people like Mr. Mullan,” said Christensen.
The city of Seattle also responded to the settlement through a statement. It reads:
“This case presents a profound human tragedy that no family should have to endure. Seattle Municipal Court and its Probation Services Division recognize the devastating losses the Schulte family has experienced as a result of Mark Mullan's decision to drink and drive. Despite the City’s supervision of Mr. Mullan, he made a tragic choice with horrendous consequences. The City and the city's insurers have reached a settlement agreement with the Schulte family regarding the civil lawsuit against the City and Mr. Mullan. This compromise resolution will allow the City, its insurers and the Schulte family to avoid the uncertainty of trial.”
Dan Schulte, since that time, has been on the forefront of changing DUI laws here in the state. Just last year, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that makes an individual's fourth DUI a felony. As for Mullan, he continues to serve an 18-year prison sentence.