Feds settle for $2.5 million in lawsuit filed in hit-and-run death of Mallory Dies killed by aide to Rep. Lois Capps. Asst. U.S. Atty signs off 3 days before Nov. 4th election

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By Peter Lance December 28th, 2014. The Santa Barbara-News Press reported early Sunday that just three days before the hotly contested congressional election in which eight-term congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA)  was in a “competitive run” for her seat against GOP challenger Chris Mitchum, the office of The U.S. Attorney for The Central District of California in Los Angeles, reached a settlement with the parents of Mallory Rae Dies, the 27 year-old UCSB graduate who was killed after a December, 2013 manslaughter hit-and-run crash involving Mrs. Capps’ then District Representative Raymond Victor Morua III.

In an online piece filed at 1:25 a.m. City editor Scott Steepleton reports: 

The hit-and-run death of Mallory Rae Dies at the hands of an aide to Rep. Lois Capps opened the door for Republican Chris Mitchum to do on Nov. 4 something no one had done since incumbent Mrs. Capps first took office: make a competitive run for the seat long-held by Democrat Mrs. Capps.

Weighing down on her re-election bid was the fact that the man responsible for Mallory’s death, Raymond Victor Morua III, was drinking that fateful night at an event he claims to have been attending on the congresswoman’s behalf.

The December 2013 incident on Anacapa Street resulted in a federal wrongful death lawsuit naming the United States of America and Mr. Morua. Mrs. Capps was not named in the lawsuit, but it still brought unwanted publicity during election season. She ultimately won another term.

The News-Press has learned that on Nov. 1 — three days before the election — Mallory’s parents, Matt and Raeona Dies, along with Julie Zatz, assistant U.S. attorney, signed a $2.5 million stipulated settlement in which the government admitted no liability in Mallory’s death.

Court documents obtained by the News-Press state that all parties agree that the funds represent “the entire amount of the compromise settlement … and that the respective parties will each bear their own costs, fees and expenses, and that any attorney’s fees owed by plaintiffs will be paid out of the … settlement amount.”

The Dies further agreed to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit with prejudice, which means it won’t be filed again. If the suit isn’t dismissed with prejudice, the settlement would be null and void. “This written agreement contains all of the agreements between the parties … and is intended to be and is the final and sole agreement between the parties.”

Mr. Morua, 33, is serving 20 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

In an interview for this website Matt Dies, the father of the victim who spear-headed a campaign for accountability by Mrs. Capps, said that he and his wife Raeona would make a “mid-six figure donation” to Vow4Mal.org the non-profit set up in his daughter’s name to stop drunk driving.

“There’s no doubt that without the dogged investigation of this tragic accident and the ensuing cover-up by members of Mrs. Capps staff reported on peterlance.com and in the News-Press, the government would not have been motivated to settle our wrongful death suit so quickly and the litigation could have remained open ended. I also want to commend Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Zatz who helped facilitate the settlement along with our attorney Bob Stoll. We can now begin to have some closure and continue to work in Mal’s memory to insure that no one in Santa Barbara ever again gets behind the wheel if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs.”
SEEKING COMMENT FROM MRS. CAPPS

I contacted Mrs. Capps’ press secretary Chris Meagher, a former reporter for The Santa Barbara Independent by both email and phone asking for a comment but he has yet to get back to me.Previously in comments to FoxNews.Com and The IndependentMr. Meagher and Mrs. Capps respectively charged that my five-part series was “full of inaccuracies” but when pressed for comment on specifics they refused to talk, pending the civil suit.Since that has now been settled I’ve asked them again to cite any specific inaccuracies in my 20,500 word series or my follow-up stories which can all be accessed here.

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