Dies Family Sues U.S. Government, Capps, Morua

Attorney Argues Hospital Costs and Punitive Damages are Owed

Congressmember Lois Capps
Paul Wellman

The parents of Mallory Dies, who was killed last December in a drunk driving accident in downtown Santa Barbara, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Government, Congresswoman Lois Capps, and Capps’s former aid Raymond Morua that seeks punitive damages.

Matt and Raeona Dies, represented by Los Angeles-based attorney Robert Stoll, Jr., allege that Morua was working for Capps when he drove drunk and caused the collision that left Mallory with fatal head injuries. Capps has denied that Morua was representing her in an official capacity at the time, and her office said it could not comment further on pending legal matters. Morua pleaded guilty last week to DUI and fatal hit-and-run charges, and faces 20 years to life in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Mallory's father, Matt Dies
Paul Wellman

In the civil court filing, Stoll alleges that Capps hired Morua knowing full well he had a history of “alcohol and drug abuse,” including two prior DUIs, and that she and her staff acted negligently and irresponsibly by asking him to drive as part of his work duties.

Stoll said he has multiple pieces of evidence to show that Morua was “on the clock” when he hit Dies, such as photos and texts taken in the hours and minutes leading up to the incident. The Office of General Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives — Stoll said a December 23 letter from the office denied an initial claim for damages and prompted the lawsuit — didn’t return a request for comment.

“These are not people trying to get rich off their daughter’s death,” Stoll said of Matt and Raeona Dies, explaining Mallory’s parents would like to be reimbursed for hospital and funeral expenses. Matt Dies has said in previous interviews that if the court awards his family any funds, he would contribute much of it to an anti-drunk driving program formed in the aftermath of Mallory’s death.

Accusing Capps and her office of “circling the wagons” and avoiding any kind of responsibility for the accident, Stoll cited “required vehicle doctrine” case law that attaches liability to the employer of a defendant who commits a crime in their work car. “It’s an open and shut case against Lois Capps,” Stoll asserted.


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