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Claims Over Coutchie’s Death Now Uncertain

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The parents of a Laguna Beach police officer who died on duty two years ago in a traffic collision this week asked the Orange County Superior Court to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the driver of the other vehicle and two other defendants.

Luciana and Robert Coutchie, parents of motor Officer Jon Coutchie, could not immediately be reached for comment. A lawyer for the Coutchies filed a request on Tuesday, June 9, to dismiss without prejudice their case, which had been scheduled for a status check by the court in August.

Last week, the City Council approved pursuing its own claim to recover costs incurred in 2013 when the motor officer was killed in a collision with a truck driven by 20-year-old Irvine resident Chase Halaby.

Reached Wednesday, City Manager John Pietig had not yet reviewed the new filing and was unable to comment on what bearing, if any, the Coutchie’s request for dismissal might have on the city’s claim.

The city’s claim is separate from the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Coutchie’s parents against Chase, Marc and Darlene Halaby on April 2, according to Pietig.

Specifically, the city’s claim would seek to recover the $250,000 in Workers’ Compensation that the city paid to the state Department of Industrial Relations, since Coutchie did not have any dependents, and $30,000 for the damaged motorcycle, according to Pietig.

On Sept. 21, 2013, Coutchie’s northbound motorcycle rammed the passenger side of a southbound GMC pickup as it turned left across Coast Highway at Cleo Street shortly after 11:34 p.m.

An investigation concluded a year later indicated that a motorist, since identified as Chase Halaby, was primarily at fault in the collision for failing to yield the right-of-way while turning left into the oncoming path of Officer Coutchie. But it also indicated that Coutchie’s speed, at 30 M.P.H. over the posted limit, was a contributing factor.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker, who specializes in vehicular manslaughter, announced that there was not enough evidence for the Orange County District Attorney’s office to file criminal charges, said a statement by Laguna Beach police.

Correction

The story “Claims Over Coutchie’s Death Now Uncertain” in the June 12 edition incorrectly stated that the parents of Laguna Beach police officer Jon Coutchie asked the court to dismiss their wrongful death lawsuit. In fact, their attorney only dismissed the claim against Darlene Halaby, one of the three defendants. The claim against the driver, Chase Halaby, and his father remains intact, their lawyer said.

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