News

March 15, 2014

J.N., et al. v. Boy Scouts of America, et al. – Confidential Settlement

Four men have settled their claims against the Boy Scouts of America for sexual abuse they suffered as young boys between 1979 and 1986 at Fire Mountain Boy Scout Camp by the camp’s Aquatics Director, Charles S. Grewe. Since at least 1979, the Boy Scouts knew Grewe was a pedophile based on complaints of abuse made by other young scouts. Almost every year between 1979 and 1987, young boys at Fire Mountain camp reported to camp leaders that Grewe sexually abused them at the swim beach. Similarly, in 1981, young boys from Troop 41 in Lake Stevens, WA, reported that that Grewe sexually abused them during Scout meetings. That information was immediately reported to the Scout Executive of the Evergreen Area Local Council, but Grewe, who was heavily decorated and considered a “respected member of the Scouting community,” was allowed to remain in various leadership positions in Scouting, including his close work with children at Fire Mountain Scout camp. Meanwhile, outside of Scouting, Grewe worked as a bus driver for various elementary schools in the Everett School District. Finally, in 1988, Grewe was arrested and convicted for numerous sexual offenses against children after he was found to have sexually abused a number of boys and girls on the school bus. In 1988, the Boy Scouts of America met with Grewe to discuss the numerous allegations of abuse, and finally suspended him from Scouting, action they should have taken almost ten years earlier.

4 Tents set up at Camp

Result
  • Settlement: Confidential
Defendant(s)
Attorneys
March 14, 2014

Seattle Archdiocese Data Breach

Seattle Archdiocese Data Breach and Identity Theft

March 2014 Seattle Archdiocese Data Breach

A large-scale data breach has occurred at the Seattle Archdiocese this week that reportedly affects more than 90,000 volunteers and employees.  The Seattle Archdiocese held data, including social security numbers, in a database.  The Archdiocese used this data to conduct background checks on its employees and volunteers.

Identity Theft Lawsuits

A question that will need to be asked is “Did the Archdiocese do enough to protect its employees and volunteers from identity theft?”  At this point, it is not known if they had appropriate data security on their databases.  A lawsuit would enable legal discovery, a process in which depositions are taken and records subpoenaed.

Can I sue for identity theft?

Identity theft causes myriad issues in a person’s life.  It’s not just the inconvenience of changing your credit and debit cards, or the feeling of having been violated.  You’ll have to watch your credit for years and always be on guard.  An identity thief could open credit accounts in your name, or gain access to your financial institutions and steal money directly.  The effects of identity theft are long lasting.  You should contact an attorney and see if you may be entitled to sue for compensation.

Tax Refund Identity Theft Scam

In the case of the Catholic Church’s Seattle Archdiocese data breach, the thieves gained access to the names, addresses, and social security numbers of the affected people and sometimes filed false tax returns in order to obtain tax refunds.  It’s a scheme that’s been prevalent this year, according to the IRS.  You can check to see if you were affected specifically by going to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript.

Seattle Archdiocese Schools Closed

Some of the Catholic Archdiocese schools closed Friday, March 14, 2014 so an investigation into the data breach could be conducted.

March 11, 2014

R.R. v State of Washington DSHS – $3,000,000 Settlement

Great result for our client, R.R. $3,000,000 settlement with DSHS for years of repeated rape and child sexual abuse at the hands of her abuser, the father of her 2 children. CPS had many chances to intervene in her horror story, but neglected to follow their own procedures. Even after her abuser kidnapped her during CPS’ involvement, the agency failed to contact law enforcement or otherwise take action. As a result, she was raped and abused for over a decade while living in hiding throughout Idaho and Utah.
Accused Child Abuser

March 11, 2014

Woman Settles Child Abuse Case Against Washington State for $3,000,000

The State of Washington has agreed to pay $3,000,000 to a woman, identified only by her initials R.R., who alleges Child Protective Services failed to protect her after she gave birth when she was just 12 years old and entered state protective care.  R.R. alleges the same man, her mother’s boyfriend, impregnated her again within two months after she gave birth and continued to sexually and physically abuse her over the next decade while he held her captive and she raised his sons.  The settlement will allow the State to avoid a jury trial that was previously scheduled to begin today in Tacoma, Washington.

In January 1995, Washington State’s Child Protective Services was notified that R.R., a sixth grader at the time, had just given birth at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Washington.  Given her age and lack of prenatal care, the hospital’s workers asked CPS to investigate.

Records and testimony obtained during the litigation show that CPS workers quickly identified her mother’s 35-year old boyfriend, Christopher Eugene Hamburg, as the likely father, and R.R.’s sixth grade teacher testified that she told CPS that Hamburg was likely the father.  R.R. alleged that CPS did nothing to protect her from Hamburg, but instead asserted that it could not intervene because the 12-year old R.R. had not personally reported the abuse.

Accused Child Abuser Christopher Eugene Hamburg

While the investigation was still pending, Hamburg moved R.R.’s family out of Spokane, and R.R. alleges CPS did nothing to try to find her or to warn law enforcement that Hamburg had the family on the run.

Ten months later, when the family was living in Boise, Idaho, R.R. alleges she gave birth to another child by Hamburg.  She was only 13 years old.

Over the next 15 years, R.R. alleges Hamburg continued to sexually abuse her while he moved her family between various locations in Washington, Utah, and Idaho.  In 2010, when she was 27 years old, Hamburg allowed her to use the internet for the first time, and she made friends in a chat room.  One of those friends, R.R. says, helped her realize the gravity of the crimes that Hamburg had committed.  She left him shortly thereafter.

R.R.’s attorney, Michael T. Pfau, who has brought a number of cases against the State of Washington on behalf of abuse survivors, finds this one of the most disturbing cases he has handled: “In 1995, the state claimed they couldn’t do more because R.R. did not personally report the abuse, despite an abundance of evidence that she was a child in danger.  Fast forward twenty years, and the State was still suggesting CPS is not responsible because R.R. did not disclose the abuse.  But that’s why CPS exists:  to protect children from abuse, not to blame them for it.”

The alleged perpetrator, Christopher Eugene Hamburg, is still on the loose, and could face criminal charges.  The legislature in Idaho, where R.R. claims Hamburg abused her for many years, previously abolished its statute of limitations for child rape.  It is unclear whether news of the settlement will cause police and prosecutors in that state to re-visit whether they can charge Hamburg with child rape, particularly with the availability of paternity and DNA testing.

Child Abuse Statute of Limitations

It is also unclear whether similar legislation will be introduced in the Washington legislature to abolish the statute of limitations for child abuse, but according to Pfau, this case demonstrates the need to do so:  “Washington is a leading state when it comes to civil liability for those who abuse children and for those who fail to protect children.  Our children are undoubtedly safer because of it, but reforming Washington’s criminal statute of limitations is the next step.”

News Coverage

February 6, 2014

For-Profit Corinthians Colleges, Inc. Under Investigation

For-profit colleges count on high job placement numbers to boost their appeal to would-be applicants.  It makes sense, since the reason people go to college is to get a good job.  Corinthians Colleges, Inc., the Huffington Post has revealed actually paid employers to temporarily hire their graduates (they paid one employer $2000 for guaranteed 30 day employment).  Corinthians Colleges, Inc., who operates Everest College, is federally accredited, which means it can accept student loans through the Department of Education.

Corinthian Colleges' Everest College Financial Aid and Job Placement Text from their Website

Students and former students, we’d like to hear from you.

If you are a student of one of Corinthians Colleges, Inc.’s many campuses (including Everest College, WyoTech, Heald College, and QuickStart Intelligence) and you’ve had trouble with the education that was provided or with the job placement, we’d like to talk to you about your experience.  Please either call 1-800-349-PCVA (7282) or use the contact form located below.

Success in lawsuits against for-profit colleges

Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC has had success in suing for-profit higher education institutions just like Corinthians.  A lawsuit from 2005-2009 against the Business Computer Technology Institute (BCTI) for educational malpractice resulted in settlements valued at more than $15 million. Darrell Cochran was the lead attorney in the BCTI lawsuits, and he, with co-counsel came to an agreement with the defendants and their insurance carrier to pay former students a cash settlement.

Tacoma Attorney Darrell Cochran

Darrell has been practicing law since graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993.  He has a wealth of jury trial experience, with many cases reaching results of over $1 million.  Use the contact form below to send Darrell a message.

  • 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.

January 21, 2014

Secret files on 30 Alleged Child Abusers in the Chicago Archdiocese Released

The Chicago Archdiocese has released its files on 30 priests who are alleged to have sexually abused minors, primarily in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  The names of the alleged priests include Fr. Norbert Maday, Fr. Kenneth Brigham, Fr. William O’Brien, Fr. Robert Mayer, Fr. Henry Swider, Fr. John Curran, Fr. Raymond Skriba, Fr. William Cloutier, Fr. James Hagan, Fr. Joseph Fitzharris, Fr. Thomas Job, Fr. Robert Becker, Fr. Marion Snieg, Fr. Daniel Holihan, Fr. Daniel McCormack, and there are more.

January 15, 2014

Olympia School District to Pay $1.2M to Child Sex Abuse Victim

The Olympia School District’s insurer has tentatively agreed to pay $1.2 million to a former Garfield Elementary School kindergartener who was molested by Gary Shafer, a former Olympia school bus driver, in 2010.

In 2011, a Thurston County Superior Court judge sentenced former Olympia school bus driver Gary Schafer, now 35, to 14 1/2 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting three girls on Olympia school buses, including the then-5-year-old girl whose civil case was settled on Tuesday.

Shafer’s two other minor victims also have won cash awards as a result of their civil lawsuits. In September 2013, the school district’s insurer agreed to pay a then 6-year-old victim $750,000 to settle her lawsuit.

And, in late September 2012, a jury ordered the Olympia school district to pay a third victim $1.4 million after it found the district was negligent and failed to properly supervise Shafer. The jury awarded the girl $1.4 million at the conclusion of a jury trial.

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2014/01/14/2930708/olympia-school-district-to-pay.html

If you or your child are a victim of child sex abuse, please contact PCVA today and learn your options.  All consultations are free and confidential.

January 7, 2014

PCVA Client Wins $375k Settlement in Wrongful Death Suit

From the Seattle Times: Parents allege drug task-force members did nothing to protect their son after his identity as a confidential informant was compromised; police say Jeremy McLean just wasn’t careful, even though he’d been warned.

The four law-enforcement agencies that make up the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force have agreed to pay the parents of a dead confidential informant $375,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging detectives failed to protect their son after they used him to snare a local heroin dealer.

Jeremy McLean, 26, was a small-time drug dealer and user who agreed to work for the task force in 2006 to avoid drug charges of his own. He was killed Dec. 29, 2008, in a Longview trailer home by William Vance Reagan Jr., a heroin dealer who had been arrested by task-force detectives after McLean — working undercover and wearing a wire — bought drugs from him.

Read the rest of the story: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022611409_informantdeath1xml.html

December 5, 2013

McLean v. City of Kelso – $375,000 Settlement

PCVA attorneys settled with 4 public agencies over the wrongful death of confidential police informant, Jeremy McLean. Jeremy was an undercover operative for law enforcement in Southwest Washington. After a successful sting netted one of the area’s biggest heroin dealers, Jeremy was outed as an informer. The dealer put a bounty on Jeremy’s life. And just two weeks before Jeremy was set to testify for the prosecution, the dealer executed Jeremy with four shots to the head. Jeremy’s family contended that the police agencies he was working with knew about the threats to Jeremy’s life but did nothing to protect him. As a result, Plaintiffs contended law enforcement created an unconstitutional danger to Jeremy and were negligent in his death.
Jeremy McLean Helped the Police Convict Criminals

Result
  • Settlement: $375,000
Cause Number
  • Clark County, 12-2-00851-9
Defendant(s)
  • Wahkiakum County
  • Cowlitz County
  • Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force
  • Cowlitz County Offender Services
  • City of Kelso
  • City of Longview
Attorneys
News Coverage
December 4, 2013

Confidential v. State of Washington (DSHS) – $425,000 Settlement

Darrell and Loren Cochran represented a family in a case against the WA State Department of Social and Health Services for negligent supervision of a convicted rapist. The child victim was sexually molested in her home hundreds of times by a juvenile parolee who was negligently allowed to be left alone with minors, in spite of a court order stating he was barred from “unsupervised contact with anyone 2 years younger” than himself. DSHS performed a home visit, saw that minor children were also living in the residence, and yet failed to remove the offender or even warn the family of the parolee’s previous crimes.Generic City Jail

Result
  • Settlement: $425,000
Cause Number
  • Court of Appeals, Div II (WA): 44065-2-II
  • Pierce County: 11-2-08294-1
Defendant(s)
Attorneys
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