Corson & Johnson

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Wife of Eugene Police Officer Who was Shot to Death Files $5.75 Million Lawsuit

From Oregon Live

Officer Chris Kilcullen was shot and killed by Cheryl Kidd when he attempted to pull her over for erractic driving and speeding.

Chris Kilcullen
courtesy of the Eugene Police Department

The wife of a Eugene police officer who was shot to death in the line of duty in 2011 filed a $5.75 million lawsuit against the mentally ill woman who killed him.

Officer Chris Kilcullen was 43 when he died on April 22, 2011 after he tried to stop 56-year-old Cheryl Kidd for erractic driving and speeding. Kidd fired a .38-caliber bullet out the window of her Buick Skylark, striking Kilcullen in the chest.

The suit faults Kidd for buying the handgun from a Eugene gun store in May 2010 when she knew or should have known that her schizophrenia and the gun would put others at risk, according to the suit filed Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The suit faults Kidd for failing to take her prescription medications.

Cheryl Kidd shot and killed Officer Chris Kilcullen when he attempted to pull her over for erractic driving and speeding.

Cheryl Kidd
courtesy of the Lane County Sheriff’s Office
The suit also names Kilcullen’s auto insurance company, American Family Mutual Insurance Company, as a defendant for failing to pay uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits.

Kilcullen was survived by his wife, Kristie Sampson-Kilcullen, and their two daughters, who were 4 and 11 at the time of his death.

Kidd was charged with aggravated murder. Six weeks after the shooting, a Lane County Circuit judge found Kidd too mentally ill to stand trial, and she was sent to the state mental hospital. She still resides there today.

The suit doesn’t specify the amount of assets Cheryl Kidd has, or how much policy coverage American Family Mutual Insurance offered. One possibility is that Kidds’ car insurance, if she had it, could pay some for the harm she caused.

“My heart just aches for this family,” said Don Corson, the Eugene attorney who filed the suit.

Half of the $5.75 million sought is for the family’s economic damages — chiefly, lost wages from the rest of Kilcullen’s career. The other half of the money sought is for the family’s pain and suffering from its loss.

Improperly Installed Propane Gas System Kills Couple

$1.7 Million Wrongful Death Settlements

A couple was fatally burned after an improperly installed propane system spilled gas into their cabin and sparked a catastrophic fire. The couple had contracted with an installation company for a new propane hearth stove. A propane gas distributor was contracted to supply fuel for the stove and to install an exterior propane tank and exterior gas piping that would connect to the interior installation.

During our investigation, we discovered that:

  • The installation company did not obtain a building permit.
  • There was no independent inspection of the system to assure quality and prevent gas leaks.
  • The 19-year old employee of the installation company had not completed required safety testing, and did not have the required license from the Oregon State Fire Marshall.
  • The propane gas distributor hooked up the propane system without the required inspection tag.
  • The propane gas distributor did not conduct a pressure test on the system.
  • Screws were not tightened on the kit that converted the stove from natural gas to propane, allowing propane to silently and invisibly leak from the stove onto the floor.
  • There were several small leaks in the pipe fittings and connections.

A Portland attorney referred the case to us. We filed suit on behalf of the family. The case settled early in litigation for a combined total of $1.7 million.

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