Lynne Spalding family to be paid nearly $3 million in settlement over her death at SF General 

click to enlarge Bill Spalding, the brother of Lynne Spalding, is not happy with the accountability shown after his sister was found dead in a hospital stairwell. - COURTESY BILL SPALDING
  • courtesy Bill Spalding
  • Bill Spalding, the brother of Lynne Spalding, is not happy with the accountability shown after his sister was found dead in a hospital stairwell.

Bill Spalding is not a man to mince words, especially when it comes to the tragic death of his twin sister.

His sister, Lynne Spalding, a 58-year-old English woman who lived in San Francisco for years, went missing in September 2013 after being admitted to San Francisco General Hospital for an infection. Seventeen days later her body was found in a nearby stairwell.

Now, more than a year later, The City is set to pay Spalding's family as part of a nearly $3 million settlement of their lawsuit, seeming to bring the long tragic saga toward an end.

Still, the victim's brother says that money aside, there are larger issues that have not been addressed.

"A massive settlement is deserved and a long time in coming but, nonetheless, no amount of money will ever compensate for Lynne Spalding's grim and lonely end -- let alone legitimize a get-out-of-jail card for those so blatantly responsible," Bill Spalding wrote in an email to The San Francisco Examiner.

The proposed settlement between The City and the family of Lynne Spalding includes a payout of $2,941,000 that would go to Liam Ford, Simone Ford and the estate of Lynne Spalding. The family's claim was filed on March 4.

An item to approve the settlement will be introduced at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

If the supervisors vote to OK the agreement, The City will write a check. But that will probably not happen until they meet again in January.

Spalding's former boyfriend Mark Casey called both the settlement figure and The City's personnel disciplinary actions in response to Spalding's death "insufficient."

"Our main concern however has always been accountability," Casey said. "We do not consider the termination of a lowly dispatcher, who did not even contest their termination, to be holding anyone accountable.

"We also do not consider the reassigning or suspension of San Francisco Sheriff's Department staff to be holding anyone fully accountable. Lynne Spalding's life was terminated, not suspended."

Similar tragic cases of death in San Francisco have had much higher price tags. Christine Svanemyr was run over Sept. 5, 2013, by a Recreation and Park Department truck as she sat on the grass in a city park with her baby.

The City paid Svanemyr's family $15 million.

The City Attorney's Office, which negotiated the settlement, would not comment on the Spalding settlement beyond a brief statement.

"This was a tragic case. All the parties worked from the outset to amicably negotiate a just and fair settlement," City Attorney's Office spokesman Matt Dorsey said. "In the end we reached an agreement that avoids the costs risk and heartache of a contentious litigation battle."

Despite Bill Spalding's lack of satisfaction, he hopes this can mark a step in the right direction.

"With the dollar war over it is perhaps the time for a new beginning, one focused upon a concerted fight for true justice and accountability -- and maybe the size of the settlement pointing towards a clearer perspective on how central this disgraceful case is to the reputation and honor of a beautiful city," added Bill Spalding. "I truly hope so."

Spalding's family lawyer Haig Harris did not return calls for comment.

In the year since Spalding's death, the hospital has put into place new security protocols, among other changes.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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