Victim in vicious attack seeks punitive damages

SANDPOINT — The victim in a notoriously violent attack on a Bonner County woman is seeking additional damages from two young men who subjected her to the ordeal.

Vera Gadman’s counsel in a civil suit against Marshall Owens Dittrich and Joseph John Martin is moving to amend the complaint to add a claim for punitive damages, according to documents filed in 1st District Court.

A hearing on the motion is planned for March 20.

Gadman’s attorney, James Bendell, said in the motion that Idaho law does not allow a prayer for punitive damages in an initial civil complaint, but the complaint can be later amended to seek such damages.

Filed with the plaintiff’s motion was an affidavit from Gadman, who recounted how Martin and Dittrich attacked her in 2011 on the Hope peninsula. Martin and Dittrich were runaways from a therapeutic boarding school in northwestern Montana.

Gadman encountered the duo walking along Highway 200 near Clark Fork and offered to give them a ride to a campsite in Hope. After arriving on the peninsula, Gadman said she was choked into unconsciousness, bashed her head with a bottle and fists and pelted her with rocks.

Gadman was able to break away from her assailants and escape. The two 17-year-olds were arrested and charged as adults with battery to intent to commit robbery.

Both suspects ultimately pleaded guilty.

Martin, of Denver, was portrayed in court records as the primary aggressor and ordered to serve three to 15 years in prison. Dittrich, of Danville, Calif., was given a 10-year-prison sentence with retained jurisdiction, also known as a rider.

Defendants sentenced on a rider serve up to a year in prison before a decision is made to release them on probation or further incarcerate them. Dittrich was placed on probation following a rider review earlier this month.

Gadman is seeking punitive damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering, in addition to lost earnings and medical costs. Gadman suffered head, neck, wrist, back and facial injuries during the attack, the affidavit said.

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