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Alcoholics Anonymous fights lawsuit by SCV murder victim's parents

Posted: December 20, 2014 1:34 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2014 1:34 p.m.
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Lawyers representing Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. are fighting a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the organization by the parents of murder victim Karla Brada, claiming there is no basis for the lawsuit.

On Dec. 1, lawyers with the firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & From LLP, representing AA, filed two court motions to stop the lawsuit before it goes any further - a demurrer and a motion to quash.

Hector and Jaroslava Mendez of Sylmar claim in their lawsuit filed in September that AA World Services Inc., and other defendants, failed to prevent the murder of their daughter Karla Brada.

AA Lawyers argue that defendants, including AA World Services and a local couple identified by Brada’s parents as their daughter’s personal AA sponsors, owed Brada nothing.

In September, a San Fernando Superior Court jury found Eric Earle guilty of murdering Karla Brada by willfully and deliberately smothering her to death between the night of Aug. 31, 2011, and the morning of Sept. 1, 2011, inside the couple’s condominium. He was sentenced earlier this year to 26 years in prison.

According to Brada’s parents, AA World Services, Inc., was “a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, alter ego, partner, agent, franchisee, licensee, employee, employer, controlling franchiser, controlling licensor, principal ... who failed to prevent such acts when having the power and/or duty to do so.”

They claim defendants including AA World Services, Inc.: “Negligently, carelessly, recklessly, wantonly, and unlawfully treated, counseled and failed to report apparent abuse of the decedent thereby allowing the abuse to continue and escalate as to directly and proximately cause death of the decedent.”

Lawyers representing AA World Services disagree and argue in their court motions that they breached no duty owed to Brada.

They state in their demurrer: “Plaintiffs must plead and ultimately prove that Defendants breached a duty owed to Ms. Brada, which breach was the legal and proximate cause of her death.... Plaintiffs do not (and cannot) plead Defendants owed a duty to Ms. Brada.”

The lawyers for AA further state that Brada’s parents “do not even plead a connection between Defendants and Ms. Brada, much less that a ‘special relationship’ existed giving Defendants custody or control of Ms Brada such that they owed a duty to protect her from her boyfriend and murderer.”

AA’s lawyers define a demurrer this way: “A complaint is subject to general demurrer if it fails to allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action.”  In other words, Brada’s parents failed to show enough facts to warrant a lawsuit.

They argue that tying each of the defendants to each other - the local AA office, the sponsors, the AA head office in New York - is the “epitome of the sort of uncertainty that is cause for the granting of a special demurrer.”

They word it this way: “The boilerplate contention that each defendant is an agent of each remaining defendant and ratified or approved all the actions and inactions of each other defendant is plainly insufficient.”

That’s not how the parents of the murdered Saugus woman see it.

Brada’s mother told The Signal earlier: “If this is going to continue with AA, that they’re sending criminals there, then we need to make people aware of that so that they (AA members) know they may be sitting next to a criminal,” she said referring to her daughter’s killer.

The case is scheduled to be heard in Los Angeles Superior Court, on North Hill Street, Jan. 5, 2015.

A court hearing on the demurrer is scheduled for March 25 in the same building.

The Mendezes name as defendants in their lawsuit: AA sponsors Patrick and Joanne Fry, the local AA office in Santa Clarita and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., based in New York City.

They allege that Patrick and Joanne Fry, “provided counseling to members attending meetings and specifically became sponsors for Karla H. Brada and Eric Allen Earle,” according to a copy of the civil suit obtained by The Signal.

Joanne Fry told The Signal last month that she and her husband were never AA sponsors of either Brada or her live-in boyfriend Eric Earle.

jholt@signalscv.com
661-287-5527
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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