Hicks Thomas LLP has finalized a multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of a client severely wounded in a violent 2018 murder-suicide involving a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer.
Philip “Trae” deBeaubien sued CHP and several of its officers, arguing they bore responsibility for the shooting in which Officer Brad Wheat shot and killed his estranged wife, Mary, and wounded Mr. deBeaubien, her boyfriend. Officer Wheat then killed himself.
According to the lawsuit, CHP was made aware that Officer Wheat had made threats against his wife and Mr. deBeaubien and was concerned enough to take away his firearms and place him on limited duty.
The lawsuit contended that despite its knowledge of the threats, not only did CHP not warn Mr. deBeaubien about the potential threat to his life, but the department also returned Officer Wheat’s weapon and ammunition to him, which he then used in the shooting days later.
As part of the settlement, CHP has paid $4 million.
Hicks Thomas partners John Thomas and Eric Grant partnered on this case with attorney Stewart Katz of Sacramento. “This case has been about a fair outcome for Mr. deBeaubien and everything he has had to endure,” said Mr. Thomas. “We have now collected the settlement funds from all of the defendants and are pleased that this case can be dismissed.”
“I cannot say enough about this team of lawyers and the incredible work they did together,” said Mr. deBeaubien. “I am so grateful that I can now finally put this horrible chapter of my life behind me. I also hope this settlement means CHP will do more in the future to help its officers struggling with mental health issues.”
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