March 16, 2015

Blue Bell Ice Cream Products Linked to Listeriosis Outbreak

Have you purchased single-serving Blue Bell Creameries ice cream products within the past year?  If so, you may be at risk of listeriosis, a rare but serious illness caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.  Various media outlets and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have reported that certain Blue Bell products tested in South Carolina and Texas have tested positive for multiple strains of the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.  These products were all manufactured on a single production line at Blue Bell’s Brenham, Texas production facility, and distributed for sale to consumers in stores and to hospital food services.  After consuming Blue Bell products manufactured at the Brenham facility, five patients in a Kansas hospital developed listeriosis; three have died.  Blue Bell has issued a recall for a number of its products (listed below).

Blue Bell Ice Cream

Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, chills, and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.  Anyone developing these symptoms after eating the ice cream should seek medical care and tell their doctor about any history of eating the ice cream. Symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after consumption of the contaminated food.

Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups. These groups include the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions (such as cancer). In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.

If you or a family member has eaten one of these products and gotten sick, we would love to hear from you and discuss the potential for legal action against Blue Bell.  Please contact us today for a free consultation.

List of Blue Bell Products Believed To Pose A Risk

For your convenience, we have provided a list of Blue Bell ice cream products, along with their product codes, believed to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and recalled by Blue Bell.  Blue Bell’s recall includes only the products listed below and does not include any Blue Bell cups, pints, or half gallons.

Chocolate Chip Country Cookie SKU # 196
Great Divide Bar SKU #108
Sour Pop Green Apple Bar SKU #221
Cotton Candy Bar SKU #216
Scoops SKU #117
Vanilla Stick Slices SKU #964
Almond Bars SKU #156
6 pack Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245
6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249
12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars* SKU #343
March 4, 2015

Lumber Liquidators Laminate Flooring May Be Leaching Formaldehyde Into Your Home

Have you purchased laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators between January 1, 2011, and now? If so, you may be at risk from exposure to any formaldehyde leaching from the laminate flooring. As 60 Minutes recently reported, Lumber Liquidators has marketed its Chinese-made laminate flooring as CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant, which sets strict standards for formaldehyde emissions in wood flooring. However, laboratory testing has shown that the formaldehyde emissions from this Chinese-made laminate flooring grossly exceeds safety standards, sometimes by as much as thirteen times over the limit. Labs testing this laminate flooring have said that they have never seen formaldehyde levels so high.

The risk posed by formaldehyde exposure is significant. Short-term exposure to formaldehyde causes burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, and joint pain and nausea. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde is linked to cancer of the nose and sinuses, nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, and worsening of asthma. The risks posed by formaldehyde exposure are particularly high when, like laminate flooring, the source is inside your home, leaching formaldehyde into the air you breathe every day.

If you have purchased some of this laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators, we would love to hear from you and discuss the potential for legal action against Lumber Liquidators. Our law firm has extensive experience in bringing complex class action lawsuits on behalf of thousands of wronged individuals, such as securing a payment of $85,000,000 to thousands of in-home care providers cheated out of wages by the State and a $7,500,000 payment to thousands of victims of fraudulent medical bill collections. Please contact us today for a free consultation.

List of Lumber Liquidators Laminate Flooring Believed to Pose a Risk

For your convenience, we have provided a list of Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring products believed to pose a risk of emitting unsafe level of formaldehyde. This list is not definite or comprehensive, however, and other products may also emit unsafe levels:

  • 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana Royal Mahogany Laminate Flooring
  • 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana French Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Poplar Forest Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Antique Bamboo Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Oceanside Plank Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut Laminate Flooring
  • 15 mm Dream Home St. James Sky Lakes Pine Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Vintner’s Reserve Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Cape Doctor Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Golden-Acacia Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Sandy Hills Hickory Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Tanzanian Wenge Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri America’s Mission Olive Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Golden Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Summer Retreat Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Glacier Peak Poplar Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Brazilian Koa Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Blacksburg Barn Board Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Nantucket Beech Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Chimney Rock Charcoal Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James African Mahogany Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Fumed African Ironwood Laminate Flooring
February 3, 2015

Abuse Survivor Settles with DSHS for $2,500,000

Our client, M.M., recently settled her case against DSHS for $2,500,000.  Her case arose from sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her foster parent, Lester Drappeaux, who DSHS licensed to be a foster parent despite the fact that he was a convicted sex offender.

In December 1971, Lester Drappeaux was working as a janitor for the Snohomish School District when he was terminated over allegations that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor student.  The local prosecutor brought charges against Drappeaux, who pled guilty to taking indecent liberties with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

From 1972 to 1974, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”) oversaw Drappeaux’s probation for the sex crime conviction.   However, just four years later, DSHS granted Drappeaux a license to be a foster parent, despite a Washington law that disqualified sex offenders from becoming a foster parent.

PCVA attorney Jason P. Amala, who has brought a number of cases against the State of Washington on behalf of abuse survivors, says the mistake occurred at a time DSHS was being warned that its system was broken:  “Lester Drappeaux was licensed just two years after the state auditor publicly warned DSHS that its system was broken, and that sex offenders like Drappeaux were in the foster care program and abusing children.  We saw no evidence DSHS did anything meaningful in response to those warnings.”

The State of Washington took custody of M.M. in 1979, when she was about five years old.  That same year, DSHS placed M.M. in the Drappeaux foster home for the first time.  She was placed in and out of the home a number of times until 1986, when she was permanently placed in the home until she graduated from high school in 1992.

In deposition and court records, M.M. testified the abuse began when she was first placed in the home and escalated over time, eventually happening once or twice a week.  Drappeaux threatened to kill her and the other foster children in the home if she told anyone what he was doing to her.  M.M. thought she was protecting other children, but records filed with the court show that Drappeaux abused a number of other foster children who were placed in his care.

M.M.’s lawsuit was not based solely on DSHS licensing a convicted sex offender.  According to Amala, DSHS made an egregious mistake in February 1992 when it received a report that Drappeaux’s step-daughter alleged he had sexually abused her, and that she was concerned for the foster children in his home because he had spent time in jail for having sex with a minor.  But M.M. provided the court with records that suggest DSHS’s investigator closed her investigation when the step-daughter did not return her phone calls.  According to Amala, the lack of action fell far below the standard of care:  “Nothing else was done.  They could have walked a few blocks to the courthouse and pulled his criminal file.  Or they could have at least confronted him or his wife.  Instead, they made a few phone calls and closed their file.  Even their own expert witness testified this was a massive breach of the standard of care.  One of their witnesses testified she was ‘shocked’ at what was done, but she was one of the people that was supposed to have done something.”

Drappeaux kept his license for three more years, until 1995, when DSHS received another report regarding him.  Initially, investigators were prepared to close the investigation, but a supervisor ordered them to continue.  A subsequent FBI check revealed Drappeux had a long criminal history, including the conviction for indecent liberties with a minor.  When pressed to take a lie detector test, Mr. Drappeux turned in his foster license.

Amala says the evidence suggests DSHS and its workers were simply too fond of the Drappeaux foster home and lost their objectivity, particularly as it was one of the few foster homes for Native American children.  “Perhaps the most remarkable fact we discovered is that DSHS awarded Mr. Drappeaux the “Foster Parent of the Year” award in 1995, at the same time that it was conducting a second investigation into allegations that he abused children.”

January 30, 2015

Supplemental Budget Passes, DSHS Lawsuit Win

KOMO News released a story yesterday stating that the Statehouse has passed an unusual supplemental budget to deal with several issues, including a lawsuit that PCVA and our partners in the case, Livengood Alskog, brought against the Department of Social and Health Services. We took that case to trial in December 2010 and won a verdict of over $57,000,000. As the article states, interest accrues at a rate of rougly $20,000 per day, so paying it off now is “better than waiting months…” The text of the article by AP reporter Derrick Nunnally is below:

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – The Washington state House on Thursday agreed to spend nearly $300 million on a supplemental budget for expenses from last year’s wildfires and the deadly Oso landslide to social-services spending on child abuse and mental-health cases.

The supplemental budget bill passed the Democratic-controlled House on a bipartisan 83-15 vote. It now moves to the Senate, where Republicans lead the majority caucus, before going to Gov. Jay Inslee for approval. The money will cover a range of state programs, with the largest share going toward expenses from responding to natural disasters, including the mudslide and multiple wildfires in the eastern half of the state last summer.

“It’s a little unusual to do a supplemental budget this early in a legislative session, but last year was an unusual year,” Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said in a prepared statement.

Other money in the bill addresses lawsuits the state lost last year over the treatment of mentally ill patients and in-home care workers. The amount to pay off the caregiver lawsuit grows by $20,000 in interest each day, several lawmakers noted, which makes paying it off now better than waiting months for the Legislature to approve its full two-year budget later in the legislative session.

“We know we’re going to pay it in two to three months anyway,” said Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, who voted for the bill.

Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, voted against it and said the money to combat wildfires didn’t properly address a “complete and utter lack of management of public lands” that caused the fires to be so damaging.

“We’re doing nothing to take care of the issue,” Taylor said. “We’re just throwing more money at it, over and over.”

The same bill also moves up this year’s deadline for the state’s economic and revenue forecast to Feb. 20 in hopes of expediting a budget agreement in a year where lawmakers are trying to address a projected shortfall of more than $2 billion.
Read the article on KOMO News:

December 31, 2014

PCVA Scores Huge Appellate Victory in Ralph v. DNR Case

Today, on December 31, 2014, the Washington Supreme Court agreed with PCVA that all superior courts of Washington State stand as one and have the jurisdictional authority to hear any case properly filed in superior court.   The ruling is a victory for land owners whose property was destroyed in landslides caused by negligent logging practices.  The Supreme Court’s opinion echoed many of its recent decisions which have found that Washington’s legislative statutes apply only to the venue in which an action is heard.  Where competing venue statutes exist, land owners whose property was destroyed, like the Oso landslide victims, could potentially file suit in a neighboring county in the interests of justice.  This option could be particularly important where a county government is named as a defendant in the action.

Read the decision here.  We have embedded the video of the oral argument hearing below.

October 17, 2014

WA Supreme Court to Rule on Backpage’s Claim of Immunity is generally considered the largest source of sex trafficking in the United States.  We represent a number of girls who allege the company is liable for creating an online marketplace for sex trafficking and then helping traffickers post ads for sex and evade law enforcement.

For its part, asserts that it is immune from liability because of the Communications Decency Act.  Under that federal law, a website is only liable for content if it “is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet …”

We filed suit in Pierce County Superior Court.  The trial court denied a motion by to dismiss the case under the Communications Decency Act, but certified the question for appeal.

The Washington Supreme Court accepted review of the trial court’s decision.  Oral argument is set for October 21, 2014, and will be televised on TVW.  The following links include copies of the briefs filed by the parties, as well as “friend of the court” briefs that were filed by a number of advocacy groups.

Read the briefs filed with the court below

September 26, 2014

Crownhill Elementary Volunteer Charged with Rape of a Child

BREMERTON — A 51-year-old Bremerton man who has volunteered at Crownhill Elementary was charged with first-degree rape of a child Friday in Kitsap County District Court.

Stephen Robert Jabs was arrested Thursday at his home on Holly Road near Seabeck, where Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office investigators, on tips from witnesses, found numerous photographs of underage children. The Sheriff’s Office believes there may additional victims, said spokesman Sgt. Ken Dickinson.

Jabs was booked into jail of charges of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and possessing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The charges were upgraded to rape on Friday, when Jabs made his initial appearance in court.

Anyone with additional information should call Detective Aaron Baker at (360) 337-5611.

From the Kitsap Sun:

Child sex abuse attorneys can help families heal after a terrible ordeal such as this.  Contact one today.

September 23, 2014

Daycare Child Abuse in Kent, WA

KENT — Parents who rely on an in-home day care in Kent are scrambling to make other arrangements.

The state shut down the ‘More Rainbows Childcare Home’ after police say the owner’s husband confessed to molesting a 4-year-old girl there.

Drew Garrett, 61, is now charged with first-degree child molestation.

Carol Williams lives right across the street.

“He has no right to touch a 4-year-old child at all,” Williams said.

“Any time you have somebody being accused of being a sexual predator, it can be pretty scary in a neighborhood full of kids, especially having two young kids myself,” neighbor Chuck Williams said.

Krista Foronda lives right next door and is close friends with the family.

“Our daughter has grown up with their daughter and she’s done sleepovers there. Their daughter has been over here. Something like this I’m completely blown away. I could never imagine him doing anything like that,” Foronda said.

Read the full story:

PCVA is handling a similar case.  The Olympia Early Learning Center was closed in 2011 after allegations from our clients that an OELC employee sexually molested children at the daycare center.

If your child has been sexually abused in a daycare, please contact an attorney and learn your rights.

September 10, 2014

E. coli case in Tacoma from a turkey sandwich

A 4 year old girl died from complications of an E. coli infection after suffering a stroke.  Serena Faith Profitt shared a turkey sandwich from an Otis, Oregon restaurant with a 5 year old boy, who is now in critical condition at a Tacoma hospital.

According to the CDC, foodborne illnesses affect 1 in 6 Americans each year.  While most are harmless, some forms of E. coli (Escherichia coli), such as those linked to recalls of ground beef, often lead to hospitalizations, and sometimes result in death.

Often times, restaurants can be held responsible for causing life-threatening illnesses, such as E. coli infections.  Contact an attorney who practices food safety and food borne illness law today.

You may ask yourself “Can I sue a restaurant for food poisoning?”  If you’re exhibiting symptoms of E. coli or salmonella and you believe it was caused by a restaurant or food manufacturer, you may be able to sue for damages.  Contact us for more information.

E. Coli Symptoms

The main symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection are:

  • Bloody diarrhea.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Source: WebMD

Here is an article from the News Tribune with more information:
ABC News also covers the story:


e. coli bacteria and fresh food

June 25, 2014

Seattle Archdiocese to Pay $12.125 Million to 30 Abuse Survivors

The Seattle Archdiocese has agreed to pay $12,125,000 to 30 men who allege it was responsible for sexual abuse they suffered as children at O’Dea High School, in Seattle, and Briscoe Memorial School, a former orphanage and boarding school in Kent, Washington.

The majority of claims were filed after two asset-holding corporations of the Congregation of Christian Brothers of Ireland, a Catholic religious order, filed for bankruptcy in April 2011.  The Christian Brothers operated O’Dea and Briscoe for decades, but both schools were owned by the Seattle Archdiocese.

In lawsuits filed in King County Superior Court, the men alleged both the Christian Brothers and the Seattle Archdiocese failed to protect them from known abusers.  Approximately ten cases had been filed against the Archdiocese at the time of the Christian Brothers bankruptcy, but that number tripled after the bankruptcy court ordered that notice be given to potential abuse survivors in Seattle.

According to Seattle sexual abuse attorney Michael T. Pfau, the settlement will put an end to an ugly chapter for the Archdiocese involving these two schools, and will help bring closure to both the Archdiocese and his clients:  “The Archdiocese, under the leadership of Archbishop Sartain, did the right thing and acknowledged the tremendous amount of pain and suffering that our clients, their families, and our community have endured.  This settlement is the first step in allowing all parties to focus on the future.  It also allows the Archdiocese to move beyond its partnership with the Christian Brothers, a relationship that led to the abuse of scores of children.”

In the past decade, Pfau and his law partner, Jason P. Amala, have settled more than 75 claims against the Christian Brothers and the Seattle Archdiocese for over $35 million.

During the litigation, Pfau and Amala uncovered dozens of records that illustrate the abuse problem that has plagued the Catholic Church.  For example, 11 of the men claimed they were sexually abused by former O’Dea teacher Edward Courtney, who court records show had been removed from four schools for abusing children before he was transferred to O’Dea.  Just a few months after arriving in Seattle in September 1974, one of the men complained to his older brother that Courtney had sexually abused him.  The complaint prompted the man’s older brother to meet with a vice principal of O’Dea who assured him the situation would be handled.  However, Courtney was not removed from O’Dea until 1978, even though records show O’Dea officials had continued to receive reports that he was sexually abusing children.

Another 5 of the men claimed they were sexually abused at O’Dea by former teacher G.A. Kealy, who students openly referred to as “Feely Kealy.”  In a 1963 letter, the O’Dea principal, Matt Popish, asked for Kealy to be transferred from O’Dea because of “the complaints parents had made to Bishop Gill about him.”  Popish noted “the Bishop suggested to me that it would be better for all concerned if he were not to be around.”  Two of the men alleged they had told Popish about the abuse, but claimed nothing was done to protect them or other students.

About half of the plaintiffs alleged they were abused at Briscoe, including a number who attended the school in the final years before it was sold in 1969.  In court pleadings, Pfau and Amala cited a 1966 letter where one of the Christian Brothers at Briscoe described the deplorable conditions at the school:

“Parents are often taken to Court for the very same neglect and abuse for which the school and the American Province have been guilty.  This damaging atmosphere has existed not only during the past year but in varying degrees during all the years that I have known the school.  It is not only far worse now, but has reached immoral and unethical limits.  It is my feeling that the Congregation’s conscience is guilty of social injustice, immoral practices, and lack of charity as regards Briscoe School.”

The men will also receive settlement funds from the Christian Brothers bankruptcy proceeding.  According to Amala, the bankruptcy resulted in the near liquidation of the Christian Brothers in North America:  “The bankruptcy plan required the Christian Brothers to liquidate the vast majority of their cash, property, and other assets, and to distribute the proceeds to abuse survivors.  They were allowed to keep just enough to take care of their older members who did not abuse children.”

The bankruptcy plan also required the Christian Brothers to implement a number of policies and procedures that are designed to protect children from sexual abuse.  The policies and procedures, which were drafted by a committee of abuse survivors, were the starting point of settlement negotiations in the bankruptcy.  According to Pfau:  “Our clients wanted to make sure history does not repeat itself.  They insisted we protect future generations in addition to holding the Christian Brothers accountable for what they suffered.”

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