Remarkable Survival

Linda's story is one of profound neglect, abuse, and unconscionable social work. Her ordeal has been called one of the worst instances of spousal abuse in our nation's history. Despite it all, Linda not only survived, but is one of the most charming, positive people you will ever know. Read more about the landmark settlement reached in Linda A. David v. State of Washington, DSHS. 


Linda David, clientLinda endured more than twelve years of torture, beatings, malnourishment, and neglect while trapped on a 28-foot sailboat, which was moored 200 yards offshore. When rescued in January 1997, Linda could not walk, her face and ears were replete with deep scars, several bones were broken in multiple places, the sockets of her eyes were so damaged that she could no longer see, her nose was shattered, her upper teeth were knocked out, and very few lower teeth remained. Linda was found completely immobile, layered in rags that were covered in dog hair, feces, and vomit. Upon Linda's admission to the emergency room, the smell of rotten flesh and garbage was so pungent that the attending nurses were forced to apply autopsy compound under their noses.

Linda's story was reported to be, and is still considered, one of the most severe cases of spousal abuse in US history. As a result of her injuries, Linda is profoundly disfigured and suffers from extensive, irreversible brain damage. Linda is legally blind, cannot ambulate, and must use a wheelchair for the remainder of her life.

David Moody and Linda DavidWhile Linda was being held captive by her abuser, the State of Washington, DSHS was responsible for ongoing oversight and management of Linda's care. Despite its legal obligations to do so, DSHS failed to provide even the most minimal level of protection. DSHS ignored clear warnings of abuse, failed to assess Linda's caregiving situation, and continued to pay Linda's abuser without any effective oversight. By the time Linda was found, it had become clear that, over the preceding twelve years, DSHS had induced, supported, and fostered the brutal and prolonged torture she endured.

As Gary Locke, then governor of the State of Washington, acknowledged:
"The system failed Linda David, the woman who was apparently kept in virtual bondage. . . . It's that simple. The system failed. People failed. Officials failed. . . . We cannot give Linda David back her good health. We can never completely heal her battered body. But, we can stop making excuses."
Nonetheless, DSHS did make excuses. The attorneys for DSHS flatly denied Linda's claim for damages and quickly jockeyed to heap blame on Linda herself. In contrast to the statements by Governor Locke, the attorneys for DSHS boldly stated, "The injuries and damages, if any, claimed by [Linda] were proximately caused or contributed to by the fault of [Linda]."

David was honored to serve as Linda's attorney. Working closely with Linda, her guardian, and a team of talented experts, David successfully secured the largest single-plaintiff settlement against the State of Washington, DSHS ($8.8 million).

Far more important than the money is the vast array of new opportunities in Linda's life. Today, Linda visits friends, goes on outings, paints, participates in the care and feeding of horses, and attends community events. Her days are filled with activities as she is accompanied by loving caregivers around the clock.

Despite her formidable limitations, Linda is the most courageous, charming, and lovable person one could hope to meet. In Linda's words, "There are two choices—the positive and the negative. If you are smart, you choose the positive."
Areas of Expertise: Social Work Negligence, Nursing Home Negligence, Daycare Negligence, and School Negligence