Dr. David K. Davoudlarian, the Annandale gynecologist whose stepdaughters alleged in a $10 million civil lawsuit that he had killed their mother, agreed yesterday to pay them $310,000 to settle the suit out of court.
Most of the money -- $294,250 -- will come from four insurance policies on the life of Susan Davoudlarian at the time she was strangled in June 1983. David Davoudlarian was the principal beneficiary of those policies, and Thursday, as part of the settlement, he endorsed insurance checks covering most of the settlement to lawyers representing his stepdaughters.
Their unusual civil suit alleged that Davoudlarian strangled his wife in their home. The case was tried for four weeks in Fairfax Circuit Court in April and ended in a hung jury. Five of the jurors said later they believed that the doctor had killed his wife, and two were unconvinced.
"We did all we could do," said Susan Butler of Mansfield, Mass., one of the daughters, in an interview yesterday. "It wasn't money we were after, it was exposing who killed our mother."
Butler, 21, who was married this month, and her sister, Lisa Rooney, 19, of Fayetteville, N.C., said they believed that the April trial accomplished that. "The issue of who killed our mother is not over," Butler said. "It's not being dropped."
The 11-page settlement, which bears 22 signatures and took two months to negotiate, includes no finding about how Susan Davoudlarian died. David Davoudlarian has denied any connection with his wife's death and testified to that effect during the trial.
No criminal charges have been brought in the killing, which remains under active investigation by Fairfax County police. County prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. has said he lacks sufficient evidence to win a criminal case.
Davoudlarian, 49, who has testified that publicity surrounding the lawsuit has reduced his $200,000-a-year medical practice by 70 percent, will have to pay only between $10,000 and $25,000 of the settlement, all of which will go to a trust fund for his son, who lives with him.
"The settlement involves no money paid to them the stepdaughters out of his pocket, and we thought it was in his best interest," said Jack Rhoades, one of the doctor's two attorneys. The settlement, he said, was no larger than what would have been the additional legal fees for David Davoudlarian for defending himself. Rhoades said his client has spent about $200,000 on his defense.
The doctor did not return phone calls to his home and office yesterday. It could not be learned how much of the settlement that the daughters will receive will go to their lawyers.
The absence of criminal charges is what made the civil suit unusual. Damage suits usually are filed after criminal prosecution and often rely heavily on the outcome of criminal trials.
The settlement, which ends three related lawsuits filed over the death, brings to a conclusion one of the most dramatic and tantalizing legal cases in recent years in Northern Virginia, a case that brought scores of spectators to the Fairfax courthouse for nearly a month -- spectators who listened intently to the often lurid testimony from nearly 70 witnesses.
Susan Davoudlarian, 40, disappeared from the Davoudlarian home in the Truro subdivision in the early hours of June 4, 1983, along with the family station wagon. Eight days later, her nude and severely decomposed body was found wedged in the folded-down back seat of the car, parked in the long-term lot at Dulles International Airport.
Police have said in court documents that they believe she was killed at home and that her body was driven to the airport.
The trial examined the scant physical evidence about the killing and focused on the conduct of the Davoudlarians: the rocky state of their marriage, the doctor's alleged temper and his matter-of-fact reaction to his wife's disappearance, his wife's purported sexual appetite and her extramarital affairs.
The lawyers who brought the civil suit -- Stanley P. Klein and Peter D. Greenspun -- had said that its purpose was to "prove" who killed Susan Davoudlarian as much as to get money. They had vowed after April's mistrial to retry the case. Retrial was set for Nov. 4.
Greenspun said the size of the settlement constituted the bulk of David Davoudlarian's assets, leaving him the family home, several parcels of real estate and two cars, which Greenspun said were worth a total of $200,000.
The precise amount of the settlement, and the final division among the two stepdaughters and a young son the doctor had with his slain wife, await a written opinion from Fairfax Judge Lewis H. Griffith on four technical matters.
Publicity the trial received gave police several leads, but Horan said this week that they all "have come up dead ends."