Special Reports

Crystal's family plans to file claim against Gig Harbor

Judson family attorney Paul Luvera plans to file a wrongful death claim against Gig Harbor in the shooting of Crystal Brame "within the next week or so."

"Since the City of Tacoma has seen fit to point the finger of blame in many directions - including at the City of Gig Harbor - we are forced to file a claim" with Gig Harbor, Luvera said Wednesday.

"It's too bad the City of Tacoma continues to deny responsibility and instead blames everyone else."

Luvera did not specify the amount of the claim, a civil procedure that is the first step toward filing a lawsuit. But his office said the filing would be similar to the original $75 million claim for damages Luvera made against the City of Tacoma on June 9 on behalf of Crystal Brame's parents, Lane and Patty Judson; her sister, Julie Ahrens; and her two young children, Luvera's law firm said.

Gig Harbor City Administrator Mark Hoppen had little comment Wednesday.

"They haven't filed a claim," he said. "I don't know what to expect."

Crystal Brame was shot and fatally wounded by her husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, April 26 in the throes of an acrimonious divorce.

The Judson family is now suing Tacoma, claiming the city has culpability in Crystal's death for giving David Brame a position of responsibility, failing to supervise him and not acting on allegations of domestic violence.

In answering the Judson family lawsuit earlier this month, Tacoma's attorneys said if the city is to blame in Crystal Brame's death, then so are a number of other parties, including the City of Gig Harbor, Crystal's attorney, her counselor and members of her family. Luvera did not say whether he plans to file claims or suits against those other named parties.

David Brame went to Gig Harbor police in 1996 and told them about an argument with his wife, but made no mention of physical abuse, according to reports.

In early April, Crystal Brame called Gig Harbor police and told a records specialist her estranged husband had abused her in the past and kept a loaded gun in their bedroom. She said her husband would soon be served with a restraining order and she wanted to know what she should do if he showed up at her house, reports show.

The records specialist, who didn't recognize Crystal Brame's name, told her to call 911 if she felt threatened.

Neither of the Brames, who lived in Gig Harbor while married, ever made an official report of physical violence to the city's police, Chief Mitch Barker has said. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma, meanwhile, took issue with Luvera's claim that the city "is pointing our finger at anyone."

"That's a mischaracterization," he said. The city's response "was that if you're going to make a claim that the city is at fault, you could make the claim that a number of others are at fault, too."

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659