Alcoholics Anonymous Dismissed In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

By Zachary Siegel 01/20/16

AA will not be held accountable for the murder of Karla Brada.


Last year, The Fix reported that Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. was being sued by the family of Karla Brada, who was killed by Eric Earle, a man she met at an AA meeting in Santa Clarita, Calif.

On Tuesday, Brada’s family, who filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., in 2011, learned the list of defendants named in the lawsuit no longer included AA, the institution they believe could have prevented the death of their daughter.

Brada’s mother thinks AA should be held accountable because Earle’s violent history was shielded by AA’s policy of anonymity. The suit argues AA owes it to their members to protect them from violent predators such as Earle, who was sentenced to 26 years to life for suffocating Brada at the condo the coupled shared.

People close to Earle said he frequently relapsed on alcohol and became violent when drinking. Court records show Earle had been the subject of six restraining orders. The wrongful death lawsuit argues a man like Earle should not have had the ability to pick up women at meetings.

AA in the United Kingdom and Australia adopted new codes of conduct over a decade ago to prevent exactly that behavior. These new policies are sets of moral imperatives for members to speak out about, and potentially punish or expel violent and abusive behavior.

A U.K. AA Conference in 2000 determined that, "Violence in any form is not acceptable at any level of the structure; our members have the right to feel secure and safe in meetings and whilst going about AA service/business." To this day, AA in America has no such policy.

While Earle’s behavior is indeed deplorable, in the original article cited above, The Fix, as well as several lawyers, argued the wrongful death lawsuit was thin. The couple, Earle and Brada, met at an AA meeting and the subsequent romantic partnership that took place was between two consenting adults, outside the rooms.

The couple could have met at a number of institutions such as a church or synagogue, on public transit or through Craigslist. Suing any of these organizations, AA included, is not a viable argument in a wrongful death lawsuit.

But the big question remains: If there were policies such as those found in the United Kingdom or Australia, would Karla Brada still be alive today?

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.