News and Case Updates

DSHS Now Making Full and Final Payment of Judgment

DSHS Now Making Full and Final Payment of Judgment

As we told you in earlier updates, the state legislature has been debating a supplemental budget bill which includes full payment of the money you are owed in this case, as well as the costs of responding to and recovering from last year’s Carlton Complex wildfires and the Oso landslide, whose victims PCVA is also proud to represent.  In a remarkably quick turnaround, the legislature passed that bill.  Yesterday, Governor Inslee signed that bill into law, effective immediately.

With this quick funding action by the legislature, DSHS has now initiated full and final payment of the roughly $85 million it owes to the court-appointed claims administrator, Gilardi & Co., who will be mailing a check to you for the amounts you are owed.  The calculations for how much each of you will get are still being worked out, but this important final step by the State means you are close to receiving your checks.  We will update you as soon as Gilardi sets a date for beginning to mail out your checks.

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January 30, 2015 Update:  Court Approves Plan of Distribution of Funds to Class Members

January 30, 2015 Update:  Court Approves Plan of Distribution of Funds to Class Members

The great news keeps on coming this week.  Today, Judge Erik Price of the Thurston County Superior Court approved our proposed Plan of Distribution of the money owed to you.  If you missed our earlier post explaining what a Plan of Distribution is, you can read it here.  Both the State and several non-profit entities potentially entitled to any money left over after you are reimbursed for your share of $85 million judgment against the State (courts call these “leftovers” a “residual”) wanted to delay the process while sorting out precisely how the residual, if any, will be distributed to the State and those non-profits.  However, we successfully argued that you have waited long enough for the money owed to you already, and the Court should simply approve a plan for paying you now and cross the “residual” bridge if and when we actually get there.

Getting the Court to approve a Plan of Distribution was the next-to-last step in the process for getting you the money owed to you under the judgment.  And, as we discussed in our last post, it looks like the last piece of the puzzle will slide into place sooner than we thought.  Originally, the State said that it intended to pay the $85 million judgment this July.  However, yesterday, the state House of Representatives passed a supplemental budget authorizing payment of the judgment.  If the state Senate also passes the supplemental budget and Governor Inslee signs it into law, the State could make its payment (and money starts going out to you) much sooner than July.  We will keep you posted.

In the meantime, many of you have called or written asking how much money you will receive from the judgment.  Now that we have a Plan of Distribution in place, we have our damages expert calculating precisely how much money you are entitled to under the judgment.  We will update you here when those numbers are available.

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DSHS Lawsuit Update: Supplemental Budget Passes Washington House

DSHS Lawsuit Update: Supplemental Budget Passes Washington House

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: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Supplemental-budget-passes-Washington-House-290274691.html

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January 27, 2015 Case Update

January 27, 2015 Case Update

Recently, the State informed us that it wants to make a $12 million payment on the $85 million it owes to you. Because this case is a class action where these millions of dollars will have to be paid out to the tens of thousands of class members, the law requires the Court to approve a Plan of Distribution spelling out exactly the process for how you will claim your share, how it will be distributed to you, and when it will be paid to you. The State wanted to condition any payments on requiring you to go through a complex, inconvenient claims process of sending you various forms that you would have to return before receiving any money, but we demanded the simplest, most convenient way of getting your share of the judgment to you — simply mailing you a check for the precise amount of money you have lost due to the State’s actions in this case. We refused to budge on this point, and the State eventually agreed.

We have now submitted a Plan of Distribution to Judge Erik Price of the Thurston County Superior Court for his approval. Under the Plan, you will receive a single check for all your lost wages once the State has paid the entire judgment that it owes — putting the most money into your hands in the quickest, easiest way possible for you, and saving you from the hassle of having to deal with multiple checks.

The Court will decide whether it is approving the Plan of Distribution at a hearing on January 30. If the Court approves the Plan, the State’s lawyers are still indicating that they will pay the rest of the $85 million by July of this year. Once that happens, you will begin receiving your checks sent by the claims administrator in this case, Gilardi & Co., LLC. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the case, please do not hesitate to email or telephone us.

If you have any questions regarding the case, please do not hesitate to email or telephone us.

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September 10, 2014 Case Update

September 10, 2014 Case Update

On Friday, September 5, 2014, the case returned from the state supreme court back to Thurston County Superior Court where Judge Erik Price made his first rulings in the case.  Judge Price signed an order entering a judgment, officially titled the Second Amended Judgment, against State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services in the amount of $57,123,794.50, with post-judgment interest accruing at 12% from the date of the entry of the verdict on December 20, 2010.

Gilardi & Co., LLC, a San Francisco-based claims administration company, has been appointed by the Court to handle the notice and distribution of funds for class members.  Class Counsel will now work with Gilardi & Co., LLC to develop the comprehensive plan to notify over 20,000 individual providers that wages have been recovered for them and to alert them to the process under which the money will be distributed.  This plan will be presented to the Court for its approval soon.

Many providers have asked when the State DSHS will be paying the judgment.  The best answer at this point is that it is unclear but the State has indicated it intends to wait until July 2015 to pay the judgment.  Class Counsel will continue efforts to obtain payment on the judgment sooner because we know how important it is to everyone.

If you have any questions regarding the case, please do not hesitate to email or telephone us.

Second Amended Final Judgment on Jury Verdict GRANTED (PDF, 381KB)
First Amended Supplemental Judgment and Order for Attorney Fees and Costs Following Mandate (PDF, 376KB)

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Appeals over; Payment Expected Summer 2015

Appeals over; Payment Expected Summer 2015

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.

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Supreme Court Issues Mandate

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

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WA Supreme Court DENIES State’s Motion for Reconsideration

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

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State files for reconsideration with Supreme Court

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.

Appellants’ Mot for Reconsideration

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Supreme Court Ruling is in – $57M Verdict Upheld

Supreme Court Ruling is in – $57M Verdict Upheld

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 ruleDSHS 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

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