WA AG settles neglect, document withholding case for $3.1M

Jun 5, 2023, 12:18 PM | Updated: Jun 6, 2023, 7:43 am

AG neglect case...

The settlement announced Monday is on top of more than $300,000 in penalties levied by a judge against Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office for wrongful withholding of evidence. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

The Washington state Attorney General’s office will pay more than $3 million to settle a lawsuit against the state over a woman who was allegedly mistreated at an adult family home in Kent.

The settlement announced Monday is on top of more than $300,000 in penalties levied by a judge against Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office for wrongful withholding of evidence.

WA AG, DSHS fined additional $122K in neglect case

King County Superior Court Judge Michael Ryan ordered the AG’s office and the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to pay the fine as a sanction for the state failing to turn over 11,000 pages of records to prosecutors in a lawsuit involving the neglect of Emily Tobin, a developmentally disabled woman at an assisted living facility in Kent.

“The discovery violations, in this case, are egregious, severe, without excuse and the result of willful disregard of discovery obligations by both DSHS and the attorney general’s office,” Ryan wrote in his 12-page order.

Her attorneys said she suffered negligent care and treatment while living at a state-licensed adult family home in Kent. Her attorneys at Hagens Berman filed the suit in 2021 but said the Attorney General’s office withheld documents, only releasing them last month.

The Attorney General’s office said in a statement they did not intentionally withhold the documents and found an additional 100,000 pages wrongfully withheld. Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Meyer said the state “deeply regrets the errors in discovery in this case and is working to rectify them.”

Attorney General Ferguson announces exploratory campaign for Governor

The woman’s attorneys claim Ferguson’s office tried to prevent them from asking about records while moving to dismiss the suit.

The Attorney General’s Office released a statement about the settlement, saying a full investigation will be conducted to determine what had gone wrong.

AG Ferguson recognizes that the buck stops with him. Discovery sanctions are unacceptable. The issues that led to the sanctions highlight the need for better communication with our client. Additionally, one of the issues involved miscommunication between the lead attorney and the attorneys assigned to assist with the case while the lead was on leave. We are reviewing our discovery protocols to determine what changes are appropriate. AG Ferguson is overseeing a review. A personnel investigation is ongoing.

The settlement that will be paid to Tobin totals $3,125,000. The court must approve the settlement before it becomes final.

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WA AG settles neglect, document withholding case for $3.1M