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.”

News Coverage

June 17, 2014

PCVA Attorneys Named to 2014 Washington Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists

Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

We are pleased to announce and congratulate 8 of our attorneys who have been selected to Washington Law and Politics’ Super Lawyers and Rising Star lists.

Attorneys selected to Washington Super Lawyers in 2014

Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Attorneys selected to Washington Rising Stars in 2014

Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Congratulations, attorneys!

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit

June 10, 2014

PCVA Files New Claims for Damages Caused by Oso Mudslide

Four victims of the Oso mudslide, including the mother of a 14 year-old boy killed at his family’s home, have filed tort claim forms with Snohomish County and the State of Washington for damages they suffered as a result of the March 22, 2014 tragedy at the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

Randi Lester, the mother of Denver Harris, along with Robin Youngblood, Stephanie Murphy and Kane Conner have each filed the claim forms as required by law before a lawsuit can be brought against local and state government.  Under Washington law, a lawsuit against local and state government cannot be filed until 60 days after the tort claims are filed with government risk managers.

“The question these victims want answered is why?  Why were any lives lost when government officials clearly knew a significant risk existed for a catastrophic slide on that hillside?” said attorney Darrell Cochran who represents the four claimants.  “Why were new homes allowed to be built in the first place, and why weren’t home buyers made aware of the dangers and, at a bare minimum, given the information that would have allowed them to decide to live elsewhere?”

Harris was killed when the mudslide leveled his family’s home on Steelhead Drive.  Denver was a seventh-grader at Darrington Middle School.

Youngblood was at home, talking with a friend in her dining room, when the slide hit and carried her a quarter of a mile, trapped by flowing mud and water.   Youngblood’s daughter Murphy and her son-in-law Conner had left the house minutes earlier with their son Koltn when the slide came down.  The family lost everything in the disaster.

“The danger was known by people who had the authority and ability to do something about it.  Major slides in the 1950s and 60s.  Another major slide in 2006,” Cochran said.  “And yet, new homes were still being built after that and existing properties were being sold without a single word about the hazard just across the river.”

Oso Mudslide Arial View 2014-03-22

Making the situation even worse, according to Cochran, was the destabilization of the hillside
by logging just above the slide.  “Why did the State sign off on a single logging permit when it knew the trees on top were an essential part of the hillside’s stability?”  Cochran asked.

Cochran said the filing of the tort claim forms today is only the first step in getting answers and accountability from all the individuals and entities, both public and private, who knew or should have known about the landslide risk that eventually took the lives of more than forty people in Snohomish County.

News coverage of the Oso Mudslide Lawsuit

June 5, 2014

Rekhter v. DSHS – Victory in nearly $90M Class Action

WA Supreme Court DENIES State’s Motion for Reconsideration

The Washington Supreme Court today denied the State of Washington’s motion to reconsider its ruling in favor of the Class Plaintiffs on their $57 million jury verdict with post-judgment interest. The judgment of roughly $90 million will stand.

Once finalized, the case will be returned to Thurston County Superior Court for final work to be completed on payment and the payment process that will be ordered by the court. The Court will determine the most appropriate way to make sure that the Class Members know about the result and the manner in which money will be distributed to the Class Members.

Please check in frequently here on the website for updated details as we move towards completion of this process.

Read the order from the Supreme Court here

This case is about in-home care providers who lost out on benefits promised them by WA DSHS.  In 2010, the case went to trial and the jury awarded the plaintiffs over $57,000,000.  After a lengthy appeals process, the total award with post-judgment interest will be nearly $90,000,000.

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