POULSBO — Wendy Davis, Poulsbo police sergeant and former deputy chief, filed a civil suit Dec. 19 with two other women, Jaclyn Brant and Germaine Szewezyk, claiming the organizers of the Extreme K Mud Run were "grossly negligent" in designing the course.
Davis, Brant and Szewezyk filed against RDGB Royal Farms on Paulson Road in Poulsbo, Silverdale Chamber of Commerce and Kitsap Mall. The suit states the farm designed, managed, directed and maintained the course, and the chamber and Kitsap Mall were sponsors, promoters, beneficiaries, organizers, designers and/or supervisors of the run. The Extreme K Mud Run was held Oct. 6 at Royal Farms.
The three women each "suffered [severe] displaced left ankle and foot fractures" that required surgery. They are claiming they suffered physical and mental pain, disability, discomfort and anguish, loss of earnings and impairment of future earning capacity that will continue for an indefinite period of time.
The suit claims one of the obstacles, a "vertical chute/slide" with a rocky mud puddle at the bottom — called "Gravity's Revenge" — was dangerous. The obstacle consisted of a ravine covered in heavy black plastic that was kept wetted down by the run's staff.
"Participants were hastily instructed to 'slide' down the obstacle toward the bottom of the ravine. No other instructions or warnings were given," the suit states. "As plaintiffs impacted the rocks at the bottom of the slide at a high rate of speed, they each sustained the severe injuries …"
The suit also states paramedics were called to bring up "numerous injured participants" from the bottom of the slide. "After repeated calls from medical [personnel] to close the hazardous obstacle, defendants agreed," the suit states.
Davis, Brant and Szewezyk are seeking monetary damages to compensate them for their injuries.
A message left for Kathleen Knuckey, executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, has not been returned.
Participants of the run signed a waiver, being warned of and assuming risks involved in the course. However, Davis' attorney, James McCormick of the Tacoma-based law firm Messina Bulzomi Christensen, said the waiver will be "inapplicable or unenforceable in this case."
McCormick said he believes the court will apply the standard of gross negligence because of the seriousness of the injuries, and allow the lawsuit to proceed. Gross negligence means "absence of slight care."
Davis said in her resignation as deputy chief in November she was "unable to perform all the duties of a regular police officer" because of an off-duty injury. Davis' agreement with the city states she will work as a sergeant for another four months.
Davis said Tuesday she filed the suit because she "didn't see that there was any other option" to be compensated for her injuries. Davis is not sure what she'll do once she leaves the Poulsbo Police Department, but a career in law enforcement isn't likely in her future, she said.
"As far as chasing people, at some point I have to decide, 'Can I physically do this job anymore,'" Davis said.
Davis started her law enforcement career in 1992 as a reserve officer with the Bremerton Police Department. In September 1995, she was hired as a full-time commissioned officer. Upon completion of the Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy, she was named Best Overall Recruit in her class. In 2002, she was promoted to sergeant by then-Chief Robert Forbes.
During her career with Bremerton, she worked as a bike and boat patrol officer, school resource officer, field training officer, Taser instructor, defensive tactics instructor, crime prevention detective, traffic sergeant, and K-9 unit supervisor.
Davis received an associate’s degree from Olympic College in 1994, a bachelor of science in criminal justice administration from the University of Phoenix in 2009, and in August 2011 completed a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. She and her husband, Bremerton Police Sgt. Mark Thompson, live on a farm in Seabeck. They have three children and three grandchildren.