Health

Tuesday, Feb 26 2013 11:15 PM

Sisters of doctor who died in chimney drop their lawsuit

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

A wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the sisters of a Bakersfield doctor who died while attempting to crawl down the chimney of her estranged boyfriend's home has been dismissed, marking the latest turn in a bizarre case that quickly made national news 2 1/2 years ago.

Court records show the case was dismissed earlier this month at the request of Tina Locklear, the attorney representing the sisters.

It's unclear why Locklear requested the dismissal. She hasn't returned numerous calls for comment since the case was filed last year.

Yvonne Kotarac, one of the sisters of Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, declined to comment Tuesday.

The court filing did not identify any of the defendants by name, listing only "Does 1 through 20." The only clear reference was to the ex-boyfriend of Kotarac, who was listed as "Doe #1."

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs have lost the "love, society, comfort and attention" of their sister and were asking for unspecified damages.

Jacquelyn Kotarac, 49, had been drinking at Cafe Med the evening of Aug. 25, 2010 and arranged to have a service drive her home, according to Bakersfield police. She then drove herself to the boyfriend's home in the 4300 block of La Mirada Drive.

The boyfriend, William Moodie, told The Californian in an interview about a week after Kotarac's body was found that he hadn't wanted a confrontation that night and slipped out the back door to spend the night elsewhere.

The lawsuit said "Doe #1," in reference to Moodie, should have talked to Kotarac or told others about her stopping at his residence.

"Doe #1 did not recognize and therefore failed to act upon a potentially risky or dangerous situation by notifying authorities or others affiliated with J. Kotarac," the lawsuit said. "Such breach resulted in the death of J. Kotarac."

Kotarac, apparently not realizing he'd left, used a shovel to try to force open the back door of the home, police have said. Then she used a ladder to climb to the roof.

The doctor removed the chimney cap and slid down the flue feet first, police said. Her decomposing body was found three days later stuck near the bottom of the flue, and the coroner's office reported she died from being unable to breathe.

Kotarac, a 1991 graduate of UCLA Medical School, was an internal medicine doctor who worked out of a San Dimas Street medical office.

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