Wrongful Death

Family of Man Shot After Failed 911 Rescue Reach $2.3 Million Settlement

The story of William Munich’s life is one of a successful entrepreneur and pilot whose life ended tragically short from a crazed neighbor’s shooting. SKW attorneys Paul Whelan and Kevin Coluccio represented his estate and family. The Skagit Valley Herald recently ran an article about the result of Munich’s lawsuit against Skagit County, some of which is excerpted below.

Bill Munich with his daughter, Heidi.

Bill Munich with his daughter, Heidi.

William Munich was survived by his wife, whom he was married to over 40 years, along with daughter Heidi and son Hans.

In the fall of 2005, Marvin Ballsmider shot his rifle at William Munich and first missed. William called 911 and hid in his garage, while talking with a Skagit County 911 operator. While the operator told William that help was on the way, he did not know that the call was coded as a priority two weapons offense rather than a priority one emergency call. The deputy dispatched to the scene did not turn on lights and sirens or pick up speed toward Munich’s location. Seven minutes later, Munich called back and said Ballsmider was chasing him down Highway 20.

A jury found Ballsmider guilty of second-degree murder in 2007. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison, but died two years later at age 66 due to health problems.

Skagit 911’s attorneys argued that it was protected by the state’s public duty doctrine, which generally protects agencies from liability in such cases. For a number of years there was even a question whether the plaintiffs could sue Skagit 911 and the county. The state Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in November that the plaintiffs could sue Skagit 911 because an operator had told Munich that a deputy was on the way.

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