A King County judge on Thursday dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the family of Zina Linnik, the Hilltop girl who was kidnapped and murdered by a sex offender four years ago.

Superior Court Judge J. Wesley Saint Clair granted without comment motions for summary judgment filed by the defendants – the City of Tacoma, Pierce County and the State of Washington.

A summary judgment motion is a request by one party in a lawsuit for a judge to find in its favor without a trial. Representatives of the defendants said Saint Clair made the right call.

“The court’s ruling rightly recognizes that the responsibility for this loss lies with the man who committed the crime, Terapon Adhahn,” said Sheriff Paul Pastor, who expressed sympathy to the Linnik family.

Tyler Firkins, the attorney representing the Linnik family, vowed to appeal.

The family alleged the county and state negligently supervised and monitored Adhahn after his conviction for a sex crime and that the city mishandled the issuing of an Amber Alert after he snatched the 12-year-old girl July 4, 2007.

The family also contended, among other things, that Child Protective Services and the Sheriff’s Department did not do enough to investigate a claim of child abuse made against Adhahn in the years before he killed Zina.

Had the state and county done their duty, the family alleged, Adhahn would have been deported back to his native Thailand before he encountered Zina in the alley behind her home.

The city’s failure to swiftly issue an Amber Alert the night she went missing – the department issued one nearly 12 hours after she was abducted – constituted negligence and deprived the girl of help that might have saved her life, their lawsuit stated.

Adhahn later pleaded guilty to killing Zina and raping two other school-age girls and is spending life in prison without the possibility of parole at the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla.

He told FBI agents during an interview in prison that he accidentally killed Zina only minutes after abducting her. Lawyers for the city, county and state argued that the governments acted appropriately and that they should not be held liable for the actions of a murderous sex offender.

“The department does not have a duty to protect unknown and unidentifiable children from an adult’s future conduct,” lawyers for CPS wrote in a brief.

“Nor does the department have the authority to monitor or control – in perpetuity – the conduct of adults alleged to have abused a child as to ensure that they do not harm other unknown and unidentifiable children … ”

Government agencies should be protected from such lawsuits, said deputy prosecutor Dan Hamilton, who represented Pierce County in the case.

“Municipalities cannot be liable for all crimes that happen within their jurisdictions,” Hamilton said. “Otherwise, they’d do nothing at all out of fear of liability.”

He said he was sympathetic to the Linnik family.

“It’s understandable that someone who’s had a loss like this, a terrible loss, would want to find everyone they could to share that pain,” Hamilton said. “Those feelings are certainly understandable. They’re just not the basis for a lawsuit.”

Issues raised during the case – including the fact the police spokesman fell back to sleep instead of issuing an Amber Alert during the early-morning hours of July 5, 2007 – led former City Manager Eric Anderson to reprimand Police Chief Don Ramsdell and to call for an outside investigation of the way the police department handled Zina’s death.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland said Thursday that the investigation would continue with an eye toward finding ways to improve police department policies and procedures.

Firkins said the family would keep fighting.

“The original purpose of this case was twofold,” he said. “It was to expose the significant errors and omissions that resulted in Zina’s death. We have accomplished that goal.”

Firkins continued:

“To reach the family’s second goal, we always knew the case would be resolved in the appellate courts. We intend to create a higher duty of care for (CPS) and law enforcement when it comes to protecting children. When we have done that, we will have justice for Zina.”

Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/07/21/1754023/judge-tosses-zina-linnik-wongful.html#ixzz1TEpZsK9e