County 25% responsible for employee’s murder of husband

In a sensational 2002 murder trial with echoes of the film “American Beauty”, Kristin Rossum was found guilty of poisoning husband Gregory de Villers and trying to make his death look like a suicide. Now a lawyer for de Villers’ family has convinced a jury that Rossum’s employer, San Diego County, should be held 25 percent responsible for $6 million in resulting wrongful-death damages. Rossum had access to lethal drugs through her work as a toxicologist for the county, and had not been subject to background screening; she relapsed into methamphetamine use a week before the murder. “It is not the duty of the county of San Diego to prevent a wife from murdering her husband,” said Senior Deputy County Counsel Deborah A. McCarthy, who predicted that the county would succeed in overturning the verdict on appeal. “If this case stands, it will expand public liability in a way the state of California never envisioned.” (“Millions of Dollars Awarded to Family of Man Killed by Toxicologist Wife”, North County Times, Mar. 20)(via Childs). Update Jul. 2: judge cuts verdict.

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