Federal Way loses appeal in police negligence case
By ANDY HOBBS
Federal Way Mirror Editor
March 27, 2012 · 1:57 PM
The state Court of Appeals upheld a jury's verdict in a Federal Way police negligence case involving the murder of a 66-year-old woman.
In May 2008, Baerbel Roznowski was stabbed 18 times by her boyfriend, Chan Ok "Paul" Kim, just hours after a Federal Way police officer delivered an anti-harassment protection order.
In 2010, a jury found the Federal Way Police Department negligent in enforcing the protection order. The civil suit was brought by Roznowski's daughters, Carola Washburn and Janet Loh, both of California, in May 2009. The jury awarded Roznowski's estate $1.1 million.
Federal Way appealed the verdict, which was upheld Monday by the state Court of Appeals. The court affirmed the trial court's grant of a new trial on damages for Roznowski's daughters.
The civil suit claimed that Roznowski's death could have been avoided had Federal Way police officer Andy Hensing, who served the order, read the Law Enforcement Information Sheet that accompanied it.
The protection order contained information on Kim's history of assault and violent behavior, along with provisions that restrained Kim from contact with Roznowski. The order stated that an interpreter who spoke Korean would be needed to ensure Kim understood the provisions.
"We conclude that this evidence was sufficient to persuade a rational, fair-minded juror that the city breached its duty to Roznowski by failing to enforce the order that Officer Hensing served on Kim," according to the March 26 state Court of Appeals ruling. "This supports the jury verdict to the extent of liability and damages in favor of Roznowski's estate."
The city argued that it did not owe any "legal duty of care" because Roznowski sought an anti-harassment protection order, rather than a protection order, which falls under a different state law. This technicality, the city claimed, relieved Federal Way of any duty other than serving the order.
"There was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that the city breached its duty to Roznowski," according to the Court of Appeals. "Officer Hensing failed to enforce the express provisions of the Superior Court's order that were intended to protect Roznowski from harm."
In March 2010, Kim was sentenced to 244 months in prison for the murder of Roznowski. Kim pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
This story contains information from past Mirror reports.
Contact Federal Way Mirror Editor Andy Hobbs at email@example.com or 1-253-925-5565 (ext 5050).