Washington State Supreme Court: State is Liable for Safety of Foster Kids - Personal Injury Legal Blogs Posted by Michael John Tario - Lawyers.com

Washington State Supreme Court: State is Liable for Safety of Foster Kids

In a 5-4 decision, the Washington State Supreme court ruled that the state is liable for safety and welfare of the more than 10,000 foster children in the state’s foster system. Specifically, the majority opinion says that the state Department of Social and Health Services – now the Department of Children, Youth and Families “owes a duty of reasonable care to protect foster children from abuse at the hands of their foster parents…the foster children produced sufficient evidence from which a jury could find that DSHS breached its protective duty, and that the breach of that duty caused their injuries.” In the dissenting opinion, Justice Barbara Madsen disagreed that “a special relationship exists between foster children and DSHS and that, therefore, the state shouldn’t be held responsible for child abuse that occurs after custody is transferred to the foster parent.”

The decision upholds a ruling by the Court of Appeals in favor of five children who sued DSHS for failing to investigate and stop abuse committed against them by their foster parents, and sends the case back to trial. The case has resulted in the expansion of the state’s responsibility for the welfare of the children beyond the end of its physical custody.

DSHS has faced rising criticism for the way it has handled foster care children. The department does not have enough caseworkers and as a result may not be able to adequately monitor the care children are receiving and respond to reports of abuse. The department has seen a consistent rise in emergency calls.

In the biggest settlement reached in a case involving one person in Washington state’s history, DSHS has agreed to pay $19.3 million to a girl who was left blind, brain-damaged and quadriplegic after being abused by a man, who said he was her father, that the department placed her with in Texas.
Other plaintiffs included two of the five girls that DSHS had placed with Eatonville couple Scott and Drew Ann Hamrick between 1998 and 2000. Over the five-year period between the first of the five kids being placed in the home and subsequent adoptions, the Hamrick’s physically, sexually and psychologically abused all five children. Evidence presented at a later trial showed that a social worker who was assigned to two of the girls’ cases in 1999 failed to conduct health and safety visits, even though they were required to do so. The suit alleged that the department failed to investigate or take any protective action during the period before they were adopted.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an injury as a result of an accident or error caused by the negligence of another, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!

View Attorney Profile

Michael John Tario

Licensed since 1980

Member at firm Tario & Associates, P.S.

AWARDS

BV Distinguished
Champion Badge Silver

RECENT POSTS

  • Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington State?
    Posted on September 13, 2019

    When a person was killed due to the negligence or criminal behavior of another, they may have suffered a wrongful death. Common wrongful death cases include people killed by: • A drunk driver• Physical assault• A long-haul truck driver high on drugs• Medical malpractice• Exposure to toxic chemicals on the job• A defective product• Nursing ... Read more

  • Sept. 8-14 is Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters Week
    Posted on September 13, 2019

    Sept. 8-14 is “Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters Week.” During September 2019s National Preparedness Month, safety experts are promoting family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. The 2019 theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.” The idea is that when businesses and families are prepared for disasters, the impact will ... Read more

  • September is National Food Safety Month
    Posted on September 6, 2019

    Sponsored by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, September, 2019 is National Food Safety Month. This year’s theme is “Controlling Risk: The Elements of a Food Safety Management System.” The 2019 goal is to support the important role employees play in making sure the food safety management system works properly to keep food safe. Food ... Read more

Michael John Tario

Licensed since 1980

Member at firm Tario & Associates, P.S.

AWARDS

BV Distinguished
Champion Badge Silver

RECENT POSTS

  • Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington State?
    Posted on September 13, 2019

    When a person was killed due to the negligence or criminal behavior of another, they may have suffered a wrongful death. Common wrongful death cases include people killed by: • A drunk driver• Physical assault• A long-haul truck driver high on drugs• Medical malpractice• Exposure to toxic chemicals on the job• A defective product• Nursing ... Read more

  • Sept. 8-14 is Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters Week
    Posted on September 13, 2019

    Sept. 8-14 is “Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters Week.” During September 2019s National Preparedness Month, safety experts are promoting family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. The 2019 theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.” The idea is that when businesses and families are prepared for disasters, the impact will ... Read more

  • September is National Food Safety Month
    Posted on September 6, 2019

    Sponsored by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, September, 2019 is National Food Safety Month. This year’s theme is “Controlling Risk: The Elements of a Food Safety Management System.” The 2019 goal is to support the important role employees play in making sure the food safety management system works properly to keep food safe. Food ... Read more