SANTA ANA – Hairstylist Sandi Fannin lost her husband, their business and several close friends in a two-minute eruption of violence in October 2011 when an angry man gunned down eight people at her Seal Beach beauty salon.
She later contended in a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court that her intense grief over the massacre at the Salon Meritage was compounded by a cold, compassionless response from her business insurance company.
But Fannin acknowledged Monday that the lawsuit with Employers Mutual Casualty Co. has been quietly settled in an out-of-court agreement
“I am really happy this is over so I can try to move on with my life and concentrate on the criminal case,” she said.
The terms of the settlement are confidential, said Howard S. Shernoff, her attorney.
“Sandi is quite satisfied,” Shernoff added. “We are pleased for Sandi that she can go now forward without this hanging over head…To resolve this case early giving her the opportunity to move on is absolutely terrific.”
Robert Closson, an attorney for Employers Mutual, acknowledged Monday that the case settled, but declined further comment.
Shernoff said the lawsuit settled after a series of pre-trial issues were resolved by Orange County Superior Court Judge Kirk Nakamura. The agreement was reached in March after a session with a mediator with Judicate West in March, and became final in April.
Fannin’s 11-page lawsuit accused Employers Mutual of operating in bad faith and inflicting emotional distress by delaying and then withholding payments after the salon closed in the wake of the deadliest mass killing in Orange County history.
The lawsuit contended Fannin and her husband, Randy Fannin, had a commercial insurance policy with Employers Mutual, but after Randy Fannin became one of eight people shot to death, the insurance company treated Sandi Fannin “as an adversary,” rather than looking out for her best interests.
Sandi Fannin eventually sold the salon to Irma Acosta, one of the hairstylists who worked there prior to the shootings. Fannin now comes into the shop on Pacific Coast Highway once a week to style hair.
She said that even though she will not have to return to court for the civil case, she plans on attending the trial in Orange County of Scott Evans Dekraai, the Huntington Beach man indicted on eight counts of special circumstances murder for the shooting spree.
His trial, which could lead to the death penalty, is now slated for November but could be continued to sometime next year.
Authorities contend Dekraai walked into the salon about 1 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2011, and shot hairstylist Michelle Fournier, his ex-wife, after arguing with her earlier on the phone over child custody. Next he shot Christy Lynn Wilson, 47, Fournier’s friend and colleague, according to authorities, before shooting Randy Fannin, 61.
Witnesses said Dekraai then started shooting others at random, killing Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65; Laura Lee Webb Elody, 46; and Michele Fast, 47. Victim Harriet Stretz, 73, was shot and wounded. David Caouette, 64, was shot and killed while sitting in his parked car outside.
A Seal Beach patrol officer arrested Dekraai a few blocks from the crime scene. The officer said Dekraai told him, “I know what I did,” according to grand jury testimony.
Dekraai, 43, has pleaded not guilty.
By LARRY WELBORN/ ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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