On October 11, 2023, Disability Rights Washington (DRW) filed a complaint and settlement agreement in federal court to resolve allegations that the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) is violating the U.S. Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act in its treatment of incarcerated people with disabilities who are transgender. The court entered a consent decree ordering DOC to comply with the agreement on October 17.
On December 2, 2022, after nearly a year of negotiations, Disability Rights Washington finalized a settlement agreement with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and Health Care Authority to address state hospital discharge delays, and better ensure that people are not confined in expensive, institutional settings longer than necessary.
On September 2, 2022, two individuals and Disability Rights Washington filed a systemic lawsuit against several state officials for the harm they do to people with developmental disabilities at Rainier School. The Rainier School is a large state-run, residential institution in rural Pierce County. It is a dangerous place to live. It has a long history of failing to provide a healthy and safe environment for residents. The mistreatment and neglect within its walls have maimed, hospitalized, and killed residents.
On April 7, 2021, Disability Rights Washington (DRW); the ACLU of Washington; Munger, Tolles & Olson; and MacDonald, Hoague & Bayless sued the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) on behalf of a group of people who are currently and formerly incarcerated. Several parties, including media entities and an individual, had requested information through the Washington Public Records Act about people whom DOC has identified as transgender, non-binary, and intersex. This emergency lawsuit was necessary to protect the safety and privacy of people identified by DOC as transgender, non-binary, and intersex.
In January 2021, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on behalf of three named plaintiffs, hundreds of similarly situated foster children, and Disability Rights Washington, the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) is shuttling children with behavioral health and developmental disabilities from hotels to state offices to other one-night stays, “essentially rendering them homeless for extended periods of time.” Other youth end up in institutions, some of them hundreds of miles from their families in non-therapeutic facilities that further traumatize them.
In October 2020, the family of JoHanna Pratt, Disability Rights Washington, and Carney Gillespie PLLP filed a suit in Pierce County Superior Court against the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) for neglect, claiming that DSHS wrongfully caused the death of JoHanna Pratt and violated state law against abuse of vulnerable adults.
Attorneys from Hagens Berman and Disability Rights Washington filed a class-action complaint on behalf of a proposed class of hundreds of patients that were arbitrarily strip-searched and/or video recorded while receiving treatment for mental illness at Fairfax psychiatric facilities located in Kirkland, Everett and Monroe, WA.
In 2021, Disability Rights Washington and Yakima County agreed to extend the monitoring period of the settlement agreement for an additional year. Yakima County has made significant changes, and additional work is planned to further improve conditions for people with disabilities.
In April 2018, Disability Rights Washington and co-counsel Paukert and Troppmann filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the Department of Corrections’ practice of housing inmates with mental health needs in overly restrictive custodial settings at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Disability Rights Washington is serving as the organizational plaintiff in this case, which is ongoing.
This class action litigation was brought by Disability Rights Washington and co-counsel Carney Gillespie Isitt PLLP in 2017, on behalf of approximately 30 Special Commitment Center (SCC) residents with serious mental illness, developmental and intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and other cognitive conditions that make it difficult for them to participate in, and benefit from, the specialized sex offender treatment program offered at the facility. The lawsuit also challenged the harsh, often punitive conditions in which many of these residents were housed.
In July 2017, Disability Rights Washington, along with co-counsel filed a settlement agreement with the City of Seattle. The settlement agreement lays out a plan for Seattle to fulfill the promise of the ADA by ensuring equal access to people with disabilities who live, work, or travel to Seattle.
In August 2016, DRW filed an Olmstead lawsuit against the Department of Social and Health Service (DSHS) and the Health Care Authority (HCA). This case is about giving people who wish to live in the community the supports needed to be successful living out of institutions.
This case was brought forward by Disability Rights Washington, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Public Defender Association, and Carney Gillespie Isitt PLLP. Class members are all pretrial detainees waiting in jail for court-ordered competency services that DSHS is statutorily required to provide.
This lawsuit resulted in a settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and DSHS that calls for changes in the treatment and release of NGRI patients.