September 28, 2012
ATTN: If you have a child who was a kindergartener named Stormy or Payton during the 2007/2008 or 2008/2009 school year, please contact us as soon as possible.
A unanimous Thurston County jury awarded a 7 year-old Olympia student $1.425 million for sexual abuse she suffered, because the Olympia School District failed to protect her from a pedophile school bus driver. The child and her mother filed suit against the school district after she was molested by employee Gary Shafer in the 2010. Shafer pled guilty in August 2011 to molesting the girl and another kindergarten bus rider and is now serving 15 years in prison.
The child’s attorney, Darrell Cochran, said that his client is only one of many students victimized by Shafer on board Olympia school buses, but that the district has worked hard to keep this issue quiet to avoid embarrassment.
“Gary Shafer admitted to sexually assaulting 30 or more school children that the Olympia School District has done absolutely nothing to assist or even identify,” Cochran said. “The district won’t truly be held accountable until all those kids who are suffering in silence are found and given some help.”
Over the course of the two-week trial Cochran showed evidence to the jury that district supervisors and officials ignored numerous warning signs that should have told them Shafer was a danger to children on board the bus. According to Cochran, the district broke basic safety rules by allowing Shafer to sit in the same seats with children, even with kids on his lap, all while being completely out of the driver’s view.
“Shafer rode on school buses all around the district for no purpose, other than to seek, groom and ultimately molest children,” Cochran said. “Parents put their elementary school students on the bus under the promise that the district would see their kids safely to school. The Olympia School District broke that promise.”
News outlets talking about the story:
KOMO News: Victim awarded nearly $1.5M in school bus molestation case
September 2, 2012
Filing comes on the two-year anniversary of the shooting death of David Young
(Seattle) — PCVA Attorney Darrell Cochran filed suit today in Federal Court in Seattle on behalf of the family of a 23 year-old Federal Way man shot and killed by police two years ago today.
On August 31, 2010, David Young was shot by Federal Way police officer Matthew Leitgeb after a brief, slow speed police pursuit. Leitgeb and another Federal Way officer claimed that Young failed to stop and disobeyed commands to exit a truck the officers said was suspected of being stolen. Leitgeb performed a Pursuit Immobilization Technique or “P.I.T” maneuver on the truck Young was driving and then began firing his gun from the rear of the vehicle. After unloading one clip, Leitgeb reloaded and began firing again, eventually hitting Young in the back of the head from 90 feet away.
At an inquest in March 2011, a jury was unsure whether Leitgeb had a reasonable fear for anyone’s safety at the point he fired the fatal second volley of bullets at David Young. The lawsuit claims that Leitgeb and the City of Federal Way’s Police Department unconstitutionally used excessive force by unreasonably using lethal tactics against an unarmed individual suspected of a minor, nonviolent crime.
The lawsuit also seeks accountability for FWPD actions immediately after Young was shot. “For 45 minutes, Officer Leitgeb and other Federal Way police officers prevented on-scene emergency medical personnel from giving David aid as he sat behind the wheel, nonresponsive and bleeding profusely with a large bullet hole in his head. That’s unconscionable,” Cochran said. Under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, law enforcement have a duty to aid someone injured and in their custody. Once EMTs were allowed to assist Young, he was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, but died three hours later.
Young’s death was the first of two fatal police shootings by Leitgeb over the course of a 16-month period. In July 2011, Jedidiah J. Waters was shot and killed by Leitgeb in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Federal Way after Waters allegedly reached for a gun while being chased by police. Leitgeb shot Waters 11 times and, as in Young’s case, he was the only officer who fired his weapon.
In the news:
KOMO News Story
December 2, 2011
Today, Judge Thomas McPhee awarded more than $95 million to our in-home care providers in the class action case of Rekhter v. State of Washington. In his ruling, Judge McPhee affirmed the original $57 million verdict from a Thurston County jury delivered back in February, and then added an additional $38 million in interest covering the 5-year timeframe when DSHS in-home care providers’ compensation was unlawfully cut by the State.
DSHS now has 30 days to appeal the final judgments (January 3). Based upon its prior actions, we anticipate DSHS will appeal straight to Washington’s Supreme Court. That process could take anywhere from a year and a half to two years or more. Washington’s Supreme Court tries to get opinions out within about 18 months from the date of an appeal (on average), but, in reality, they have as long as necessary to get their opinions out. Being a large case and public funds involved, the Justices could take their time with the appellate review. In the meantime, the judgment will collect 12% in interest, amount to roughly $30,000 per day on the total amount of the judgment. We will keep you posted as developments unfold.
We at PCVA are very proud to represent all of you. Your patience through this long and sometimes difficult process has been greatly appreciated. If you have any further problems with DSHS, the State of Washington or if you have any other legal matter where you feel your rights have been violated, please give us a call.
Read the 2011-12-02 FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Read the 2011-11-02 AMENDED FINAL JUDGMENT ON JURY VERDICT – PROVIDER CLASS
Read the 2011-12-02 FINAL JUDGMENT – CLIENT CLASS
Seattle Times: Judge: DSHS owes $96 million to caregivers
July 26, 2011
Recently, on July 1, 2011, Judge McPhee ruled in our favor and awarded pre and post-judgment interest to the class. What does this mean? Our accountant expert has calculated prejudgment interest on the Jury’s verdict at over $30 million dollars (a preliminary estimate). This would be added to the Jury’s verdict. Therefore, we believe that the total judgment now likely exceeds $90 million. In addition, post-judgment interest at a rate of 12% per annum will be applied to the judgment on a going forward basis. This could be up to $900K per month in post-judgment interest (another preliminary estimate).
What happens next? Judge McPhee will prepare his Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law (“FFCL”) on the Beneficiary Class claim. Both sides have submitted their proposed FFCL to Judge McPhee for review.
We really appreciate your continued patience with the process. As complex and as important as this case is to everyone involved, the process moves very deliberately and probably frustratingly slow for many of you. Based upon the Court’s scheduling, it may take another six months before final judgment is entered. As judge McPhee indicated at an earlier hearing, he is taking a very careful and deliberate approach because the case involves the public’s money. Rest assured, however, that we are doing everything possible to try and push everything to final resolution as quickly as possible.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call or email me.
Darrell L. Cochran is a Tacoma attorney who specializes in Government Liability claims. Contact us today to discuss your potential case and schedule a free consultation.
April 25, 2011
The verdict for class plaintiffs in Rekhter v DSHS was for $57,123,795 and ranked 35th of VerdictSearch’s Top 100 Verdicts of 2010. See the complete list below:
August 10, 2010
Darrell L. Cochran and his client, Kathie Lee Larson settled their case with the Washington State DOC for $4,250,000. Kathie was run down by a mentally-ill DOC parolee in a stolen car, causing life-altering brain injuries.
Link to The News Tribune story
Link to The Seattle Times story
Link to The Olympian story
July 16, 2010
DSHS failed to investigate allegations of abuse reported by a father in mother’s home. 3-year old boy, Michael Kekoa Ravenell, was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend, who DSHS failed to learn from its own computer database was a chronic abuser of children. Contact Darrell Cochran or Michael Pfau, the attorneys who brought this case to a successful conclusion if we can help you.
Link to KOMO News story
Link to The News Tribune story
Link to Seattle PI story
May 10, 2010
Western State Hospital supervisor sexually harasses employee. Recovery prompts the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to revamp its sexual-harassment policies and training.
Link to Seattle Times story
Link to The News Tribune story
April 23, 2010
A 2007 storm in Western Washington caused a landslide which demolished a local restaurant, the award-winning Ranch House BBQ. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allowed massive clear cutting, causing the landslide that destroyed Ranch House. Darrell Cochran is a Tacoma attorney that handles cases involving damage from flooding, landslides and clear cutting. Contact us for more information.
Link to the Olympian story
Link to The News Tribune story
December 21, 2009
Kitsap County Superior Court Cause No.:06-2-02064-4
Obtained confidential settlement for clients subjected to toxic exposure of hydrochloric & hydrofluoric acid due to defective propane tank. Clients suffered physical & cognitive impairments.