News and Case Updates

Supreme Court Hearing Set for May 14, 2013

Supreme Court Hearing Set for May 14, 2013

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).

2013 Washington Supreme Court Justices

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.

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$95 Million To In-Home Care Provider Class Action Members

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.

Read the 2011-12-02 FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Read the 2011-11-02 AMENDED FINAL JUDGMENT ON JURY VERDICT – PROVIDER CLASS
Read the 2011-12-02 FINAL JUDGMENT – CLIENT CLASS

News updates

Seattle Times: Judge: DSHS owes $96 million to caregivers

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DSHS In-Home Care Provider Class Action – Update

Recently, on July 1, 2011, Judge McPhee ruled in our favor and awarded pre and post-judgment interest to the class.  What does this mean?  Our accountant expert has calculated prejudgment interest on the Jury’s verdict at over $30 million dollars (a preliminary estimate).  This would be added to the Jury’s verdict.  Therefore, we believe that the total judgment now likely exceeds $90 million.  In addition, post-judgment interest at a rate of 12% per annum will be applied to the judgment on a going forward basis.  This could be up to $900K per month in post-judgment interest (another preliminary estimate).

What happens next?  Judge McPhee will prepare his Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law (“FFCL”) on the Beneficiary Class claim.  Both sides have submitted their proposed FFCL to Judge McPhee for review.

We really appreciate your continued patience with the process.  As complex and as important as this case is to everyone involved, the process moves very deliberately and probably frustratingly slow for many of you.  Based upon the Court’s scheduling, it may take another six months before final judgment is entered.  As judge McPhee indicated at an earlier hearing, he is taking a very careful and deliberate approach because the case involves the public’s money.  Rest assured, however, that we are doing everything possible to try and push everything to final resolution as quickly as possible.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call or email me.

Darrell L. Cochran is a Tacoma attorney who specializes in Government Liability claims.  Contact us today to discuss your potential case and schedule a free consultation.

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Rekhter V DSHS Mediation Update

As many of you may have read in an earlier posting, the State asked us to discuss settlement with them on February 9th and 10th in a formal process in front of a retired judge called “mediation”. We agreed to mediate the case and participated in good faith but, after two solid days of talks, the parties could not reach an agreement. Our goal is to protect the verdict for all of you and balance the risk of potential appellate court review of the trial court decisions and, ultimately, we felt the State’s position discounted the verdict and trial court decisions too heavily.

The next step for us happens this Friday, February 18th, when we enter judgment against the State for the $57 million verdict. This starts the process for the State’s deadline to appeal and also starts the clock running on the interest on the verdict. We will provide an update after that hearing on Friday.

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Rekhter V DSHS Class Action Mediation Feb. 9-10, 2011

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) approached  the class representative and class counsel several weeks ago and asked us to consider a settlement of the case before it files its appeal of the jury verdict and court decisions.  W know that the class members have waited a long time for justice in this case.  We want to make sure we get the best outcome for our clients.  We want to explore any and all options to do so.   We believe it is in the best interests of the class to explore whether the State has a reasonable offer at this time because the appeals process can take anywhere from a year and a half to three years before we learn whether the court system will allow us to recover the back wages owed in this case.

With that in mind, tomorrow and Thursday the lead attorneys and class representatives in the Rekhter v. DSHS class action lawsuit will be engaging with DSHS in a process known as mediation.  Mediation is an attempt to come to a settlement agreement led by a neutral third-party, called the mediator.  In mediation, both sides present proposals for a fair settlement.  The mediator shuttles back and forth between the parties in order to bridge the gap between the alternate proposals.  In this case, the mediator is a retired superior court judge.  The process takes some time; this mediation is scheduled for two days.  The mediator’s job is to bring the parties together.  If a settlement is reached, the class will receive formal notice by mail and publication.  However, if the parties fail to reach an agreement, the appeal process would continue as planned.

Please continue to visit our web site for additional updates with regard to this class action.  We will post updates regarding any significant developments in the case.

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DSHS Class Action – $57M Verdict For In-Home Care Providers

JURY AWARDS $57 MILLION VERDICT AGAINST STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES

IF YOU THINK YOU MAY BE A CLASS MEMBER AND WANT MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.

Largest Award Ever Against State

A Thurston County jury today found that Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) short-changed about 22,000 home healthcare workers, and awarded the group $57 million in damages. The verdict followed a three week trial. DSHS underpaid the workers over a four year period. The workers filed a class action suit against DSHS in 2007, seeking payment of amounts DSHS wrongfully withheld. Today’s verdict represents the largest damage award ever against the State.

“The jury, after hearing from both the workers and Medicaid beneficiaries, and from DSHS personnel who implemented the pay reduction, found that DSHS breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing with the workers. This case has always been about whether DSHS should pay for work it required these folks to do,” said Greg McBroom of Livengood, Fitzgerald & Alskog, the lead law firm representing the plaintiffs. McBroom also represented the plaintiffs in one of the earlier cases striking down the DSHS rule. Jenkins v. DSHS, 160 Wn.2d 287, 157 P.2d 388 (2007)

“The jury’s decision means that 22,000 people, working from 2004-2008, for a little more than minimum wage, will be paid for all the hours DSHS required them to work,” said Darrell Cochran, of the Tacoma firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “While the total recovery is very large, the award to the workers amounts to about $2,500, on average. That $2,500 is a very large sum to someone making the minimum wage.”

DSHS administers Medicaid programs in Washington. In 2004, DSHS adopted a regulation that reduced pay for workers in the program by 15% if the worker lived with the person they were caring for. Workers who lived outside the home, performing the same services, received full pay for the services provided. Two trial courts struck down the DSHS rule shortly after it implemented the reduction. Even after the state Supreme Court also ruled against DSHS, the agency continued to underpay some workers for almost a year more.

The State will probably appeal the jury’s verdict said an attorney familiar with the case. If the State appeals, a final decision may be a year or two away. The Thurston county case is Rekhter v. DSHS, Docket no. 07-2-00895-8.

External Links:
http://www.theolympian.com/2010/12/21/1481355/caregivers-win-57m-award.html
http://www.kirklandviews.com/archives/23359
http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/12/20/1473239/jury-awards-57-millionbrto-home.html

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