WPAS advocacy at Western State Hospital


On January 12, 1999, WPAS filed suit against the State seeking class certification on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities for lack of care and treatment they received as patients in Western State Hospital (WSH), a State psychiatric facility.

This lawsuit is part of an ongoing effort that began most recently in June of 1997 to improve conditions in the community and at WSH for patients with developmental disabilities who are placed at Western, or who are at risk of admission there. However, this issue has been one of concern to WPAS for the past ten years.

According to Mark Stroh, WPAS Executive Director, "The decision to file a lawsuit against the state is not made lightly nor without significant efforts to resolve conditions without litigation. Nevertheless, litigation is an effective means of bringing uncooperative state agencies together to focus on a long-standing problem and implement a legally binding solution to that problem."

The complaints — made by community professionals, by the guardians and family members of patients, and patients themselves — giving rise to the lawsuit concerned patients with developmental disabilities not receiving:

  • Adequate protection from harm;
  • Adequate habilitation treatment;
  • Adequate behavioral support; and
  • Adequate discharge planning and placement.
  • WPAS filed the suit in the United States District Court in Tacoma. The Court assigned the matter to Judge Robert Bryan. Oral argument on the motion for class certification and a status conference with the judge is scheduled for April 23, 1999, pursuant to the Court’s order.