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PCVA Settles Abuse Lawsuit Against Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services for $1.35M

Apr 6, 2021 | Firm News

On April 5, PCVA partners Darrell Cochran and Kevin Hastings and associate Patrick Brown successfully reached a $1.35 million settlement with the State of Washington and its Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) over a lawsuit regarding the State’s failure to protect a child placed in foster care by DSHS. Throughout his time in foster care, the child, Ramsey Arteaga, was subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse by several foster parents and siblings in the homes in which he was placed.

Ramsey spent February 1996 to February 1999 residing in a number of foster homes. During this time, the State received dozens of referrals involving abuse and neglect of Ramsey. However, not one of the referrals was properly investigated. Instead, following cursory investigations, if any at all, the State quickly dismissed any concerns of abuse of Ramsey. Even after a foster parent reported to the State that the 6-year-old Ramsey was acting out sexually, the State did not properly investigate the referral, let alone consider why Ramsey was acting out sexually.

In his representation of Ramsey, Mr. Cochran asserted that the State without question owed a duty to conduct a reasonable investigation and to protect Ramsey after receiving reports of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect occurring in his biological home and his state-licensed foster homes.

Expert opinion determined that the abuse experienced in foster care affected Ramsey immensely. The money awarded to Ramsey will help him receive the care he needs, including counseling and trauma therapy.