Ressler & Tesh Obtains Record Settlement for a Single Plaintiff Against DSHS

October 19, 2018

The Law Offices of Ressler & Tesh has resolved a claim of a foster child against Washington State Department of Social and Health Services for $19,300,000. This is the largest single plaintiff settlement against DSHS.

In April of 2015, DSHS removed M.D., a then perfectly healthy 18-month-old, from a stable foster home in Washington and placed her into the home of her alleged father in Texas. Two months later he severely beat her. As a result, M.D. suffered severe brain damage, rendering her quadriplegic, blind, and unable to feed or care for herself in any manner for the rest of her life.

Prior to placing M.D. in Texas, M.D.’s social worker failed to read a home study that had been completed by Texas. This home study raised numerous red flags regarding the safety of the placement. No follow-up or any substantive investigation regarding the safety of the placement with the alleged father was done by DSHS. In addition, DSHS failed to review its own files, which also contained concerning information about the alleged father. To make matters worse, DSHS told the dependency court that there were “no red flags” regarding the alleged father and strongly advocated that M.D. be placed with him. The DSHS social workers assigned to M.D.’s case admitted that they failed to follow numerous DSHS policies and failed to review any relevant documents. No disciplinary action against these social workers was taken by DSHS.

“This little girl was utterly failed by DSHS, the very agency charged with protecting her,” said Timothy Tesh, lead counsel for M.D. “By ignoring serious warning signs that should have resulted in M.D. remaining in a loving foster home, M.D. was instead flown to Texas where she was placed with a man who was both a felon and a convicted domestic abuser. DSHS knew this and yet placed M.D. there anyway. The tragic results were predictable and preventable.”

The Complaint for this matter may be found here.

Should you have any questions, please contact attorney Timothy Tesh at 206-388-0333 or [email protected].

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