News

December 20, 2010

DSHS Class Action – $57M Verdict for In-Home Care Providers

JURY AWARDS $57 MILLION VERDICT AGAINST STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES

If you think you may be a class member and want more information, please click here for frequently asked questions.

Largest award ever against State

A Thurston County jury today found that Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) short-changed about 22,000 home healthcare workers, and awarded the group $57 million in damages. The verdict followed a three week trial. DSHS underpaid the workers over a four year period. The workers filed a class action suit against DSHS in 2007, seeking payment of amounts DSHS wrongfully withheld. Today’s verdict represents the largest damage award ever against the State.

“The jury, after hearing from both the workers and Medicaid beneficiaries, and from DSHS personnel who implemented the pay reduction, found that DSHS breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing with the workers. This case has always been about whether DSHS should pay for work it required these folks to do,” said Greg McBroom of Livengood, Fitzgerald & Alskog, the lead law firm representing the plaintiffs. McBroom also represented the plaintiffs in one of the earlier cases striking down the DSHS rule. Jenkins v. DSHS, 160 Wn.2d 287, 157 P.2d 388 (2007)

“The jury’s decision means that 22,000 people, working from 2004-2008, for a little more than minimum wage, will be paid for all the hours DSHS required them to work,” said Darrell Cochran, of the Tacoma firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “While the total recovery is very large, the award to the workers amounts to about $2,500, on average. That $2,500 is a very large sum to someone making the minimum wage.”

DSHS administers Medicaid programs in Washington. In 2004, DSHS adopted a regulation that reduced pay for workers in the program by 15% if the worker lived with the person they were caring for. Workers who lived outside the home, performing the same services, received full pay for the services provided. Two trial courts struck down the DSHS rule shortly after it implemented the reduction. Even after the state Supreme Court also ruled against DSHS, the agency continued to underpay some workers for almost a year more.

The State will probably appeal the jury’s verdict said an attorney familiar with the case. If the State appeals, a final decision may be a year or two away. The Thurston county case is Rekhter v. DSHS, Docket no. 07-2-00895-8.

External Links:
http://www.theolympian.com/2010/12/21/1481355/caregivers-win-57m-award.html
http://www.kirklandviews.com/archives/23359
http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/12/20/1473239/jury-awards-57-millionbrto-home.html

Please feel free to contact us about this case by filling out the email form below:


A Brief Description of the Issue: 

 

The use of the internet or this form to communicate with PCVA or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. By using this form, you agree that you are not expecting to receive legal advice from PCVA, you are not relying on PCVA to provide you with legal advice, and that no attorney-client relationship exists until an attorney from our firm has affirmatively indicated that we will represent you. Finally, every case is governed by a statute of limitations, which means it must be filed within a certain amount of time after the event giving rise to liability, so time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


*=REQUIRED

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien