Dowe v. Community Psychiatric Clinic

Case type:  Medical Negligence, Personal Injury
Award:  $5.5 million Settlement
Attorneys:  Jack Connelly, Nathan Roberts

Case Summary

Plaintiff Maritza Dowe lost her eyesight in a brutal and random stabbing attack at her place of employment.  Our investigation revealed that her attacker was a violent schizophrenic who had not been properly treated with antipsychotic medications.

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Case Details

Maritza Rios-Dowe was randomly and brutally attacked in July 2006 while working at the King County Health Clinic in downtown Seattle.  Her attacker, a schizophrenic woman named Marilyn Walker, had become paranoid, psychotic, and convinced that a woman was “following her,” possibly trying to kill her.  After filling out some paperwork, Walker noticed Ms. Rios-Dowe working at her desk and decided to “take her out.”  Walker then removed a large butcher knife she had been concealing in her purse and repeatedly stabbed Ms. Rios-Dowe. 

Post-incident investigation revealed that Walker had a long and well-documented history of chronic schizophrenia with medication non-compliance resulting in violent behavior.  The last time Walker had become psychotic, she had attacked a police officer, attempted to “torch” an H&R Block tax preparer after dousing him with gasoline, and attacked her roommate by strangling her, pulling her hair out, and attempting to throw her out of a window.   These attacks resulted in Walker being involuntarily committed at Western State Hospital (“WSH”).  During her admission to WSH, Walker never gained awareness into her own mental illness and never appreciated her need to take antipsychotic medications in order to prevent herself from harming others.  Her psychologist at WSH noted that she “lacked insight into her mental illness,” and Walker was determined to pose a “moderately high risk of danger to others and criminal reoffense.” 

In 2003, Walker had been released to the care of Defendant Community Psychiatric Clinic (“CPC”), but CPC failed to ensure that Walker remained compliant with her medication regimen.  In fact, discovery revealed that CPC’s treating provider had not taken the time to review Walker’s violent history and that she had actually lowered Walker’s dosage of antipsychotic medications because Walker said she did not “like” taking the drugs.  This lower, ineffective dose caused Walker to become increasingly psychotic, and she eventually stopped taking her medications entirely.