We met with the State’s lawyers recently to discuss the status of the case. The State’s lawyers indicated that they will no longer pursue any other avenues of appeal but plan on waiting to pay the judgment until July 2015, after the next budget is passed by the legislature. This is quite a remarkable position to take since it means the State will incur about $9 million in interest over the next year. It’s a good investment for the class but we know it is causing a tremendous hardship to many individuals. We will continue pressing the State to make good on its debts now. We will keep you updated.
The Washington Supreme Court issued its Mandate today for the class action lawsuit Rekhter v Department of Social and Health Services, which officially ends review in the Supreme Court and now allows the case to return to the Thurston County Superior Court where final work can now move forward towards obtaining the nearly $90 million from the State of Washington to satisfy the judgment and towards developing the procedures for notifying class members of the manner in which claims will be paid.
2014-06-09 Supreme Court Mandate re Case
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.
On April 23, 2014, the State filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the Supreme Court, asking the Court to reverse its recent decision that upheld a $57M jury verdict and allowed for $23M in post-judgment interest. There are no published rules or timelines for the Court’s procedure to consider this new motion but it seems likely that we will not hear back about this motion for several months. To read the State’s new motion, please click on the link below.
The Washington Supreme Court today upheld a $57 million dollar jury verdict for 22,000in-home care providers against the State’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). With the interest since the trial, the State will pay nearly $80 million dollars in total. In April 2003, DSHS began cutting 15% of paid care hours for all disabled people with care givers who lived in the same home, under a policy called the Shared Living Rule. Under this rule, DSHS would pay 100% of benefits to disabled people who chose providers who lived out of the home, but only 85% for disabled people with live-in providers.
DSHS continued to eliminate these benefits despite a superior court ruling in 2005 that invalidated the Shared Living Rule on the basis that DSHS violated Federal Medicaid law requiring DSHS to treat groups of disabled people similarly.
In December 2010, a Thurston County jury determined that DSHS breached the contracts with the care providers by using the Shared Living Rule, awarding $57 million in damages. The State chose to appeal the verdict, and oral arguments were back in May, 2013. The Supreme Court’s decision preserved the jury verdict in its entirety, eliminated pre-judgment interest but upheld the award of post-judgment interest.
Read the Supreme Court’s Opinion HERE
Many of you are wondering “When will we receive a check?” Here are the deadlines you will want to track.
The State of Washington may decide to ask the state supreme court to reconsider its decision. The State has 30 days to file a motion for reconsideration. The Court may quickly reject the motion or call for further briefing from us. If there is a motion for reconsideration, we should expect three months to pass before that matter is resolved.
The State may also consider filing a petition to the United States Supreme Court to hear the case though the decision is based on a state law breach of contract claim and wildly unlikely to garner any interest from the US Supreme Court. It’s doubtful the State bothers with this effort.
We then have to wait for the “remand” of the case, which means the official end of the appeal and release back to the trial court. The trial court still has to make final arrangements for the company that will be hired to administer the funds and finalize the distribution plans for the money. We will be making every effort the Court allows to ensure as many class members as possible get direct notice of the judgment amounts. The Court will then require the State to pay and we can proceed to distribution.
It is wise to assume checks to individuals will not flow out until early 2015 though it is possible it all gets done much quicker and we make it by Christmas of this year. We certainly hope we can help make that happen.
Supreme Court Decision News Coverage
- The News Tribune – April 3, 2014 - http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/04/03/3131072/supreme-court-upholds-571m-in.html
- Seattle Times – April 3, 2014 - http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023296487_homecarerulingxml.html
- HeraldNet – April 3, 2014 - http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140404/NEWS03/140409630/Court-approves-$57M-verdict-for-home-care-workers-
- Spokesman Review – April 4, 2014 - http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/apr/04/care-workers-prevail-against-state/
- The Columbian – April 3, 2014 - http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/apr/03/state-court-57-million-verdict-home-care-workers/
- Peninsula Daily News – April 3, 2014 - http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140404/NEWS/304049972/state-supreme-court-oks-57-million-verdict-for-home-care-workers
Update: The opinion from the Washington Supreme Court should be released tomorrow. Below is the Washington Courts website, where the opinion will be posted. We will also email a copy to everyone once received.
There’s no new information to report. We expect the Supreme Court decision to come out in April 2014. Stay tuned.
Rekhter v. DSHS lawsuit has been scheduled for a Washington State Supreme Court hearing, set for May 14, 2013. This will be the final chance for the State to try and reverse the $95,000,000+ judgment. You’ll be able to watch the arguments live when they happen by logging on to www.tvw.org. As we get closer to the date, we’ll send out a reminder email and post a link to TVW. Comments will also be posted while it happens, on PCVA’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pcvalaw).
This is the first and only time we’ll be arguing at the Washington State Supreme Court in this case. If you’re watching live, you’ll hear a lot about precedents (opinions heard in older cases that have similar issues to this case) and how they relate to this case. The overall procedure is:
- Nine Supreme Court Justices will hear arguments from each side.
- 20-30 minutes is given each side to present and rebut their case.
- The Justices will ask questions of the lawyers during the arguments.
- Rulings occur six to eighteen months after the hearing.
Be sure to set TVW as a favorite in your web browser so you can tune in and watch the arguments live on May 14.
Today, Judge Thomas McPhee awarded more than $95 million to our in-home care providers in the class action case of Rekhter v. State of Washington. In his ruling, Judge McPhee affirmed the original $57 million verdict from a Thurston County jury delivered back in February, and then added an additional $38 million in interest covering the 5-year timeframe when DSHS in-home care providers’ compensation was unlawfully cut by the State.
DSHS now has 30 days to appeal the final judgments (January 3). Based upon its prior actions, we anticipate DSHS will appeal straight to Washington’s Supreme Court. That process could take anywhere from a year and a half to two years or more. Washington’s Supreme Court tries to get opinions out within about 18 months from the date of an appeal (on average), but, in reality, they have as long as necessary to get their opinions out. Being a large case and public funds involved, the Justices could take their time with the appellate review. In the meantime, the judgment will collect 12% in interest, amount to roughly $30,000 per day on the total amount of the judgment. We will keep you posted as developments unfold.
We at PCVA are very proud to represent all of you. Your patience through this long and sometimes difficult process has been greatly appreciated. If you have any further problems with DSHS, the State of Washington or if you have any other legal matter where you feel your rights have been violated, please give us a call.
Seattle Times: Judge: DSHS owes $96 million to caregivers