Northwest NEWS

April 22, 2002

Local News

Woman files civil suit against Albertson's

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   The mother of the young girl killed in an auto accident that occurred shortly after an alleged shoplifting incident in Woodinville last June is suing the grocery store for unspecified damages.
   On April 3, Anita Durrett, 42, of North Bend, filed in Snohomish County Superior Court a personal injury lawsuit against Albertson's Inc.
   Court papers indicate the vigorous pursuit by store employees agitated Durrett, causing her to drive recklessly. The assistant store manager who spoke with Durrett in the store parking lot prior to her hopping in her car and speeding off is also named in the case.
   According to a King County Sheriff's Department press release issued June 11, 2001, "An employee of ... Albertson's saw a woman push a grocery cart from the store without paying for two Styrofoam coolers filled with groceries. The employee spoke to the woman in the parking lot and asked for a receipt for what she had in the cart. The woman pretended to look for one, then abruptly jumped into her car and left. As she did so, she left the rear door of the car open, and one of the coolers fell out. The other was still in the lot.
   "(Durrett's 9-year-old daughter) was in the car when it left.
   "Two employees from the store followed the woman's car in their vehicle. She drove north into Snohomish County, and (an) accident ensued. (Apparently Durrett - who according to witnesses was speeding - made an unsafe pass of another vehicle, lost control of her car, crossed the centerline, left the road and hit a tree. Her daughter died at the scene.)
   "The value of the items taken was $266.16, which is technically Theft in the Second Degree, a felony."
   Last December Durrett pleaded innocent to the charge of vehicular homicide in the death of her daughter.
   In March she entered a modified guilty plea to the charge, the Alford plea, saying, in essence, she believes she is innocent but acknowledges she will likely be convicted at trial.
   Sentencing in the vehicular homicide case is set for May 14.