A King County judge is suing her neighbors after she was attacked by the couple’s donkey while walking her dogs in February 2014 on their Carnation farm.
A King County judge is suing her Carnation neighbors for unspecified damages after she was violently attacked by a donkey in February 2014.
Superior Court Judge Julie Spector remains friendly with her longtime neighbors, Timothy and Mary Nelson, but filed the civil suit because the couple’s insurance company wouldn’t agree to pay Spector a large-enough settlement to resolve the case out of court, her attorney, Dan Mallove, said Monday.
“We made a very serious effort to resolve it in mediation,” Mallove said. “The Nelsons are nice people and I think they’d like to see the case resolved but I think the problem is their insurance company.”
The insurance company is not identified in the lawsuit.
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Tom Schwanz, a Bellevue attorney representing the Nelsons, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spector also did not reply to a message left with her bailiff.
Mallove declined to talk in detail about the case but said the “court was very accommodating” as Spector, 57, healed from her injuries.
“It’s a really unfortunate situation and Judge Spector had a hard time for a while,” he said, though she has since returned to work.
Spector, a former public defender and deputy prosecutor, was first appointed to the bench by former Gov. Gary Locke in late 1999, according to news release by the governor’s office at the time. She ran unopposed for her judicial seat in 2012.
According to the lawsuit, Spector lives in Carnation and for the past 10 years has regularly walked her two golden retrievers on farm property owned by the Nelsons.
At the Nelsons’ invitation, Spector “would walk down their gravel driveway and along their fenced property,” stopping to feed carrots to the Nelsons’ two donkeys and a horse through a wire fence separating the driveway from a pasture, the suit says.
On Feb. 8, 2014, Spector went on her usual walk with her dogs and a bag of carrots, the suit says. With the dogs safely behind her on the driveway, Spector stood “as far from the fence as possible” and fully stretched her arm to feed a carrot to Bob, one of the donkeys, it says.
She stepped back several feet to listen to a voice mail on her cellphone when Bob suddenly lunged at the fence, knocking down a rotten fence post and grabbing Spector’s dog Scout by the back of her neck with his teeth, the lawsuit says.
Convinced Bob intended to pull the dog into the pasture and kill her, Spector “reacted instinctively and desperately,” punching Bob in the snout, then using her hands to force the donkey’s jaw open, according to the suit.
Bob released the dog and chomped down on Spector’s left hand and wrist:
“Her hand and wrist were trapped in his mouth and she could feel and hear the crunching sound of her bones shattering as he repeatedly bit down on them,” the lawsuit says.
Spector fell to the ground when Bob released his grip and she tried to roll away, but the donkey bit down on her right thigh, lifted her off the ground “and began shaking her like a rag doll,” it says. “Her glasses and cellphone went flying and, at this point, she thought she was going to die.”
Spector kept punching Bob, then grabbed a large rock to repeatedly slam his snout until he let go, says the suit. She then “frantically crawled about a half mile,” dragging her right leg on the ground, until she was able to call to a neighbor for help.
The neighbor grabbed the dogs and drove Spector to the hospital, the lawsuit says.
She suffered “severe, permanent and disabling injuries,” though the exact extent of those injuries isn’t presently known, according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleges the Nelsons failed to warn Spector “of the defective condition of the rotten fence post or the dangerous propensities of their donkey.”
Spector is seeking damages for her injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of income and impaired earning capacity, according to the suit.