A new lawsuit could soon be filed in connection with the death of Kristin Smart.
KSBY spoke exclusively with the Smart family attorney, Civil Attorney James Murphy, on Thursday, who said he is planning on filing a separate lawsuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Ruben Flores by the end of next week.
In 1997, Murphy filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Paul Flores on behalf of the Smart Family.
Over the years, judges have allowed the lawsuit to move forward.
That lawsuit resulted in the 1997 deposition where he pleads the fifth amendment to all questions except for his name. It also led to the 2007 dig of Susan Flores’s East Branch Street home. That search yielded no new evidence in the criminal investigation.
Murphy told KSBY he filed a lawsuit against both Ruben and Susan Flores in 1997, but it was dropped when the Flores family filed for bankruptcy.
Now, Murphy believes there is enough evidence to show Ruben, who has not yet entered a plea, was an accessory to the murder of Kristin Smart and plans to sue Ruben on behalf of the Smart family for emotional damages.
“There's absolutely no doubt that that conduct is repugnant and that is conduct that will generate punitive damages against Ruben in any court as well as general damages for the emotional stress and suffering, part of which was caused by the loss of the ability to bury their own daughter,” Murphy said.
The civil attorney said he is willing to go after all of Ruben's assets and if Murphy wins the civil case, he plans to use the money for the good of the community. One idea being to the Kristin Smart Foundation.
"If we develop evidence that other members of the family somehow knew that he had the body, buried the body, and moved the body, then they will be joined as what we call doe defendants," Murphy said. "After you have been sued, if anyone in the family decides this is a good time to hide or to move assets, they will be joined in the lawsuit. You cannot participate in a fraudulent conveyance in assets. "
The civil and criminal cases can move forward simultaneously, but the status of the lawsuit can be changed based on defense attorney's and judge's decisions.
Community members have decorated the Kristin Smart billboard in the village of Arroyo Grade with purple and white balloons following the recent arrests in the case #KristinSmart @KSBY pic.twitter.com/h6XEIzkfwp— Megan Healy (@MeganHealyTV) April 14, 2021
The well-known Kristin Smart billboard, offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, sits outside of Muphy's law office in the Village of Arroyo Grande.
"It seems to me, the primary generator of critical evidence is the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, but if there seems to be someone who triggered critical information, then I will work my hardest to make sure they get the reward," he said.
Murphy said the state of California ponied about $50,000 of it, his office pledged about $10,000 and other volunteers contributed the rest.