City Attorney Pete Holmes on Friday thanked a King County Superior Court jury for deciding in the City’s favor in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that alleged negligence by Seattle police in connection with a 2006 car crash near Seward Park that gravely injured a teenager.
The verdict for the City came after the jury deliberated about three hours at the conclusion of a 16-day trial before Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell.
At the time of the accident on May 18, 2006, Channary Hor, 16, was a passenger in a car driven by Omar Tammam. The car was in the Seward Park parking lot after closing hours when Seattle police officers on routine patrol stopped to investigate. After one officer tapped on the window of the Cadillac Seville with a flashlight, Tamman put the car in reverse and sped out of the lot, with police following at a safe distance. Tammam, who had outstanding felony warrants, crashed the car into a rock retaining wall nearby -- within about 45 seconds of leaving the park. He fled the scene, with Hor trapped inside the car. The accident left her a quadriplegic.
The case turned on whether the two police officers had engaged in a negligent pursuit of the Cadillac. Tammam pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and felony hit and run. He did not respond to a summons to appear at the trial; on Friday, the jury assessed Tammam’s responsibility at $17.4 million.
At trial, the City called the accident a "tragic occurrence" that was solely Tammam's doing. “Omar Tammam's criminal acts were the sole cause of the crash that injured Ms. Hor," the City said in briefing.
Holmes praised the City’s trial team, composed of Torts attorney Rebecca Boatright and outside counsel Bob Christie. Christie’s firm was one of three selected to represent the City in police action cases after Holmes terminated the exclusive contract with Stafford Frey Buck in 2010.