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Mallory Dies’ Family Settles Wrongful-Death Claim with Federal Government for $2.5 Million

The family of Mallory Dies has settled their wrongful death claim with the federal government for a $2.5 million payout, which will largely be donated to the Vow4Mal foundation formed in her memory. 

Mallory Rae Dies

Dies, 27, was fatally injured by a driver under the influence on Dec. 6, 2013, while she was crossing the street on the 500 block of Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara. She suffered major head trauma and was taken off life support five days later.

Her parents, Matthew and Raeona Dies, filed a federal claim that driver Raymond Morua, who pleaded guilty to felony charges and is serving a 20-year prison sentence, was on the job as a legislative aide to Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, at the time of the accident.

The federal lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and Capps alleged that Morua’s driving history made it “highly foreseeable” that he would cause a serious vehicle collision resulting in serious injury or death to members of the public, but he was still hired and required to drive as part of his job. Morua has a criminal record including previous DUI charges and a hit-and-run charge.

He was active in the local veterans community and worked as a legislative aide for Capps. He attended a Santa Barbara Independent holiday party in downtown Santa Barbara the night of the accident, according to police.

He was fired a few days after his arrest.

The settlement doesn’t admit liability, “but they certainly didn’t settle for $2.5 million because they thought there was no liability involved,” Matt Dies said. “That part of our ordeal is over. Now we get to look forward to the future.”

Money will be dispersed to the family’s attorney, Robert Stoll Jr., and a very large donation will be made to the Vow4Mal foundation that fights against drunk driving, Dies said.

He has been splitting his time between his home in Corona and Santa Barbara in the year since Mallory’s death, putting time into the foundation’s efforts.

“Several of Mallory’s friends came up here and joined us before and during Christmas, it helped lift the spirits of this house and of Corona,” Dies said. His two sons were also home for the holidays. “It makes it a lot easier for Raeona and I than if we were sitting here alone.”

Dies plans to spend a lot of time in Santa Barbara over the next few months, planning for the foundation’s St. Patrick’s Day “Provide a Ride” program where the group will pick up the tab for anyone grabbing a cab home from downtown on March 17.

“There’s no excuse for anybody drinking and driving on St. Patty’s Day,” he said. “So many of the Vow4Mal people are in the service industry downtown that they all know, this is a night where people go out and get stupid drunk. And again, we’re not against people going out and having a good time, we just want people to get home safely.”

The foundation will also transform O’Malley’s Bar into “O’Mallory’s” for the night in March for Mallory’s birthday, hosting an event to push for designated drivers.  

“We’re just going to keep fighting that fight and try to keep the community safe so tragedies like this don’t happen to other families in the future,” Dies said.

Capps’ office released a statement this week in response to the settlement.

“This lawsuit and the agreed upon settlement is between the United States government — represented by the Department of Justice — and the Dies family," it read. "I respect the decision between the two parties to settle the case. This senseless tragedy is a reminder of the horrible consequences of drinking and driving. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with Mallory Dies friends and family."

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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