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:

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

  • Settlement: $375,000
Cause Number
  • Clark County, 12-2-00851-9
  • Wahkiakum County
  • Cowlitz County
  • Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force
  • Cowlitz County Offender Services
  • City of Kelso
  • City of Longview
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

  • Settlement: $425,000
Cause Number
  • Court of Appeals, Div II (WA): 44065-2-II
  • Pierce County: 11-2-08294-1
October 30, 2013

Judge Rules Police Dog Bite Case Will Go to Trial

A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss claims brought by a client brutally mauled by a City of Lakewood police K-9 dog.  Attorney Steven Reich’s client, Noel Saldana was viciously attacked by a K-9 dog while walking to his sister’s house after an argument with his wife.  The dog slashed his leg, tearing through muscle and tendons down to the bone, rendering Noel’s leg permanently destroyed.  No charges were ever brought against Noel.  On October 25, the Honorable Ronald Leighton ruled that under the facts alleged, “any reasonable officer would have known this use of force to be excessive…and that [the officer] is not qualifiedly immune from suit.”  Trial of the matter is set to begin on December 9, 2013.

News coverage

Lakewood Police Dog
Photo credit: King 5

October 29, 2013

Darrell Cochran Argues at the Washington Supreme Court

In Ralph v. State, Darrell argues at the Washington State Supreme Court today on the issue of whether a statute requiring actions to be filed in the county in which the property is located pertains to jurisdiction or venue.

This case relates to what we claim are negligent foresting practices that caused property and other damages in Lewis County.

Watch the video on TVW’s website

Legal Briefs from the Supreme Court



October 24, 2013

Webster v. Bainbridge Island School District – $300,000 Verdict

Tom Vertetis and Liz Calora have won a verdict in a private trial for their client, B.W. against the Bainbridge Island School District for negligence. B.W., then an autistic 14-year-old, was bullied and sexually harassed repeatedly and school administrators ignored concerns from parents and teachers for months, until the police became involved. “This is an important verdict for families with disabled children in the public school system,” said plaintiffs’ lead trial attorney Tom Vertetis. “This sends a clear message that bullying of any children, let alone our most vulnerable children is clearly unacceptable. The criminal trial of one of the perpetrators indicated the victim was bullied over 75 times with separate incidents of harassment.Bainbridge Island School District

  • Settlement: $300,000
Cause Number
  • Kitsap County: 10-2-00346-2
  • Bainbridge Island School District
News Coverage
October 18, 2013

Bainbridge Island School District Found Negligent in Bullying Case Against a Student with Autism

A $300,000 verdict has been rendered against the Bainbridge Island School District for failing to protect a special needs student from aggressive bullying and sexual harassment.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of B.W. in Kitsap Superior Court in 2010 by the law firm of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC, outlined months of intense bullying and sexual harassment that went disregarded by administrators at the Bainbridge High School.

A judge has ruled that the Bainbridge Island School District was negligent when it failed stop the sexual harassment and bullying of a former special needs student at Bainbridge High School. Retired Judge Terrence Carroll found for the plaintiffs, Jan and Jay Webster, and their son B.W., as he was identified throughout the litigation, and awarded $300,000 in damages for the district’s failure to protect the then 14-year-old disabled high school freshman.


The Websters filed suit in 2010 seeking to hold the school district accountable for its inability and unwillingness to stop a pattern of sexually harassing assaults and bullying by several of B.W.’s fellow Bainbridge High students.

In a written opinion, Judge Carroll agreed with the plaintiffs, “It is rather painfully obvious that the disruption and chaos that this family suffered was to a large degree a direct result of the negligence of the school district.”

As the Judge made clear in his ruling, the school district dropped the ball. As the court documents show, B.W.’s abuse only ended when his parents got fed up with the school’s inaction, obtained a restraining order, and contacted the Bainbridge Island Police. Bainbridge Island Police immediately launched an investigation and ultimately arrested and charged four male high school students back in 2007 for the harassment. All four were found guilty of criminal conduct related to B.W.’s bullying.

Court documents further indicated the parents of the student had made multiple requests for the school administrators to intervene and a concerned teacher even emailed the vice-principals and principal to place them on direct notice of the abuse.

“This is an important verdict for families with disabled children in the public school system,” said plaintiffs’ lead trial attorney Tom Vertetis. “This sends a clear message that bullying of any children, let alone our most vulnerable children is clearly unacceptable. The criminal trial of one of the perpetrators indicated the victim was bullied over 75 times with separate incidents of harassment.

According to court documents, the harassment included exposed genitals, sexualized contact, cyber-bulling and verbal harassment. As a result, B.W. who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, required years of therapy and anti-anxiety medication.

“The attitude of the school district that this type of student victimization happens elsewhere, but not on Bainbridge Island created an environment where the severity of the incidents were downplayed and in some cases completely ignored,” Vertetis said. “If our schools refuse to acknowledge the reality that sexual harassment and bullying happens on campus, our most vulnerable kids will continue to be harmed.”

News Coverage

Documents from the Case

October 17, 2013

Olympia School District Hazing Lawsuit Filed

Attorney Darrell Cochran has filed a new lawsuit against the Olympia School District over two hazing incidents involving a Capitol High School student.  Read the news coverage below for more information.  If you have experienced a similar abusive incident, contact Darrell Cochran at 253-777-0799 to find out your options.

Olympia School District Bus

September 17, 2013

Payne v. Peninsula Case Updates

September 19, 2013
The Federal District Court, Judge Ronald Leighton, denied the Peninsula School District’s request to reconsider a ruling that denied the District’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. In a short opinion, Judge Leighton stated, “The Court can and has ruled that if the facts are proven as alleged by plaintiffs it is tantamount to child abuse which all reasonable citizens clearly deplore, and the teacher would not be entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law.”

2013-09-19 — Payne — Order Denying Mot for Reconsideration

September 17, 2013
Federal District Court of the Western District recently denied the Peninsula School District’s motion seeking to dismiss civil right claims in Payne et al. v. Peninsula School District. The order paves the way for trial in a case that was filed in 2006 and delayed in appeals for several years.

In the 2003-2003 school year, when D.P. was only 7-years-old, Peninsula School District special education teacher Jodi Coy repeatedly locked him inside an “isolation room” the size of a closet for punishment. Coy had a fundamental misunderstanding of autism and believed that punishing a child with autism would “break” their behavioral tendencies that she viewed as undesirable or unwanted. Evidence shows that Coy would punish the young children for even the smallest reasons, such as not diligently working.

Originally filed in 2006, Payne has already twice taken a trip to the Ninth Circuit, as well as weathered a petition for certiorari to the US Supreme Court.

The Peninsula School District’s most recent motion to dismiss was its final attempt to have this case dismissed short of trial. By denying the motion, the Federal District Court cleared the case for trial. The appellate law that this case has already generated has been tremendously important to disabled children around the nation; PCVA is very excited about trying the case and continuing to make more valuable contributions to disabled children’s rights.

2013-05-06 — Payne — Plfs MSJ Response Re Qualified Immunity and Monell [PDF]
2013-09-16 — Payne — Order Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment [PDF]

September 6, 2013

Jane Doe v. Olympia School District – $750,000 Settlement

Darrell Cochran and his team have settled a second lawsuit against the Olympia School District for child sexual abuse of a girl by bus driver, Gary Shafer. Shafer admitted to sexually assaulting at least 30 children aboard Olympia School Buses. He pled guilty in August 2011 to molesting three kindergarten bus riders and is now serving 15 years in prison. Gary Shafer “rode-along” other bus drivers’ routes to sexually groom his victims and the Olympia School District did not stop that from happening.
Olympia School District Bus

  • Settlement: $750,000
Cause Number
  • Thurston County: 11-2-01970-2
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