The parents of Mallory Rae Dies plan to file a claim with the House of Representatives over her Dec. 11 death, which is being blamed on an alleged DUI hit-and-run driver who is a former congressional aide.
Matthew and Raeona Dies are claiming that Raymond Morua, the driver who allegedly fatally injured their 27-year-old daughter, was on the job as a legislative aide to Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, at the time of the accident, said their attorney, Robert Stoll.
Morua, 32, a field representative for Capps who was fired shortly after his arrest, has been charged with murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death.
Police say Morua was traveling south on Anacapa Street and hit Dies as she was crossing the street on the 500 block. Dies suffered significant head trauma and was in critical condition for five days before her family took her off life support.
The police also say Morua left the scene and collided with a tree on Cabrillo Boulevard a few blocks away, which is where he was arrested.
Morua reportedly had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 percent and has past convictions of driving under the influence.
Before the incident, police say, Morua was at a holiday party for the Santa Barbara Independent at The Savoy.
Dies’ family believes that Morua attended the party as part of his job representing Capps and the legislative branch of the U.S government.
“It will be alleged that he’s in the course and scope of his employment at the time and place of the accident,” said Stoll, a local attorney with Stoll, Nussbaum & Polakov.
To make a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, someone must show that the damage was done by a federal government employee, the employee was acting within the scope of his official duties, and the employee was acting negligently or wrongly, which caused the alleged damage or injury.
The wrongful-death claim will be sent to House Speaker John Boehner, the U.S. Attorney General and Capps, Stoll said. It will not have a dollar amount attached.
Federal attorneys have about six months to accept the claim – starting negotiations to see if it can be resolved without litigation — or reject it, in which case the family would file a lawsuit, Stoll said.
He plans to file the claim next week, saying his investigators are still “out there pounding the pavement.”
“We’ve had a lot of cooperation from the Santa Barbara Police Department,” he added. “They’ve been very sensitive and helpful.”
The facts of the claim won’t have any revelations, and will mostly include what’s been reported to the public, Stoll noted.
Stoll is also filing a claim against Morua’s car insurance company, the United State Automobile Association.
“We have a pretty good idea how the accident happened,” he said.
Police were doing additional crime scene investigations this week on the 500 block of Anacapa Street, including accident reconstruction. They have several videos of the scene before, during and after the collision as well, Sgt. Riley Harwood has confirmed.
Morua is being held without bail at the Santa Barbara County Jail, and faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of the charges.
His next Superior Court arraignment date is scheduled for mid-January.