Civil Suit
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Kathy Mills, mother of Green River victim Opal Mills files wrongful death lawsuit against Gary Ridgway, his wife, Judith, and their "marital community." That move keeps Judith Ridgway from profiting, because either person in the marriage bears some responsibility for the other.

Seattle attorney William Bailey filed the complaint on December 26, 2001, in King County Superior Court. Anthony Savage accepted service for Ridgway and Judith Ridgway's lawyer accepted on hers. Ridgway will need to file a response to admit or deny the complaint.

Bailey believes they will win. "Even though Mr. Ridgway is entitled to a trial, and I certainly Support a person's right to be innocent until proven guilty, the criminal standard of proof is very different from the civil standard," Bailey said. "And there's enough evidence that's been collected by the police in their effort to solve this, to meet the burden of proof of a civil action."

These type of suits often aren't about money, Bailey said. "I don't believe Mr. Ridgway has any money and whatever he has has been leveraged to pay for Mr. Savage," Bailey said. "While a wrongful death suit focuses on mostly financial issues, this is focusing on the heart issue. .. She has suffered enormously, as well as the rest of her family." Bailey said no monetary amount can be put on Mills' request. her focus is not on collecting damages, the suit filed yesterday asks for "burial and funeral expenses, past and future loss of consortium, care and comfort, and emotional distress."

"I already knew that he had signed everything over to the lawyers, but I didn't want anything anyway," Mills said. "But I just don't want him to make a lot of money off of these girls."

Bailey compared the the case of OJ Simpson, who was acquitted in his criminal trial, but found guilty in a civil suit.

"We live in strange times where people who do bad things can make money
from it. We want him to be prevented from profiting in any way from
selling his story."

They will provide information in a legal process called discovery, Bailey said. A civil trial would be held in about 16 months, before the criminal trial begins. Attorneys have estimated that it will take 2 years or longer for Ridgway's criminal trial to begin. "It's our desire, after so much time has gone by, what is possible for Mrs. Mills to do on the civil side to get justice," Bailey said.

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