Beaverton, Oregon Named One of the Defendants in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Accusing 911 Center of Negligence

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in an incident involving an Oregon woman who went missing and was found dead close to Wynooche Lake a little over two years ago. Beverly Johnson disappeared on January 2, 2007. Her body was found 11 days later.

Now, Delbert Johnson, Beverly’s husband, and her estate are suing the Oregon city of Beaverton and the state of Washington for $3 million. Delbert is seeking $2.5 million for damages he claims he has suffered due to loss of mutual affection, love, and companionship. Beverly’s estate is asking for half a million dollars for the fear, anguish, thirst, hunger, and pain that she likely felt after she got lost. According to a medical examiner’s report, Beverly, who ended up getting locked out of her vehicle, died of hypothermia.

On the afternoon of the 69-year-old’s disappearance, Delbert reported that she failed to return home from a visit to the Beaverton Library. He says that the defendants allowed his wife to die because of the way they handled the search for her.

Some 90 minutes after he told authorities that she was missing, a driver reportedly contacted the local 911 center to report that a car was seen driving erratically on the freeway. A computer check of the vehicle’s license plate linked the 1999 Honda Accord to Beverly, who was by that time considered “missing or endangered.” However, no attempts were made to let Grays Harbor police officers or the Beaverton Police know she had been sighted. The motorist would call again after watching a news report about Beverly’s disappearance to inquire about the car.

The wrongful death lawsuit contends that the 911 center could have done more to get authorities to locate Beverly as soon as she was spotted. A search for the elderly woman reportedly wasn’t conducted until much later.

The complaint also accuses Grays Harbor County of negligence because of the way the 911 center responded to the driver’s calls. The county and the State Patrol are also cited for failing to assign an emergency phone number to the case or let Beaverton police know that Beverly’s car had been spotted. The lawsuit accuses Beaverton of negligence because of its failure to request notification if Beverly was sighted.

Beverly had a medical history of experiencing twilight seizures that affected her memory and made it hard for her to communicate. She was taking medication for her condition at the time of her disappearance.

Wrongful Death
Law enforcement officers and emergency officials can be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death if their negligence, carelessness, or mistakes result in someone getting hurt or dying.

Missing Woman’s Family Upset by Failure to Find Car in Time, Beaverton Valley Times, February 22, 2007
Husband sues sheriff’s office over death of wife, KATU.com, February 4, 2009
Related Web Resources:
City of Beaverton, Oregon

Grays Harbor County, Washington