Coster v. State of Washington

DSHS removed M.D., a then perfectly healthy 18-month-old, from a stable foster care placement 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, DSHS failed to read a 26-page home study that had been completed by the State of Texas, contrary to DSHS policies. This home study raised numerous red flags regarding the safety of the placement.  In addition, DSHS failed to review their own files, which also contained concerning information of the alleged father.

Ressler & Tesh obtained a settlement of $19,300,000 for M.D. This settlement will take care of M.D. for the rest of her life. In addition, it is the largest single plaintiff settlement against DSHS.

Read the complaint here.

Schmidt v. State of Washington

A couple had a history of CPS investigations over several years regarding their children. DSHS continuously failed to complete proper follow-up on the reports it received. The couple then fled with their six siblings to avoid CPS inquires. CPS knew that they had left to New Mexico, yet failed to inform New Mexico of the active investigation.

The six siblings were subjected to horrific sexual and physical abuse while in New Mexico, until one of them was able to escape. A settlement of $9,000,000 was obtained by Ressler & Tesh for these children.

Wolf v. State of Washington; E.Q. v. State of Washington

DSHS received dozens of reports regarding abuse and neglect of 5 siblings over several years, yet failed to properly investigate or inform the dependency court of what was happening with these children. The siblings suffered years of sexual and physical abuse at their hands of the biological father. In addition, DSHS failed to complete a required background check on the children’s step-grandfather, who was a registered sex offender.

Ressler & Tesh obtained a $7,875,000 recovery on the behalf of these children.

Beggs v. State of Washington

Tyler DeLeon died of starvation on his seventh birthday.  At the time of his death, his bruised and battered body weighed just 28 pounds having been systematically starved and abused by his foster mother, Carole DeLeon.

Inexcusably, Tyler DeLeon was one of many children placed in the DeLeon home despite the fact that Ms. Delone had previously lost her foster care license when DSHS determined that she had abused and starved foster children in her home.

In addition, some of the surviving plaintiffs alleged that their doctors failed to report obvious signs of neglect, abuse, and starvation.

This case resulted in an appeal heard by the Washington State Supreme Court, the result of which clarified the law allowing health care providers to be sued solely for their failure to report suspected signs of abuse under RCW 26.44 as distinguished from medical malpractice actions. Beggs v. DSHS 171 Wn. 2d 69.

In 2012, DSHS settled their portion of the case for $6,100,000.

In 2013, a confidential settlement was reached with one of the children’s doctors.

Wolf v. SCO Family of Services

Dependent children from Washington and New York were placed by a New York foster care agency into a home with a known history of concerning allegations of neglect. Ressler & Tesh obtained a $6,250,000 recovery against this agency for these children.

Read the NYT article about the case.
Download the NYT article about the case.

Wenger v. State of Washington

Four children were placed into an abusive home where they were abused both physically and sexually by their foster (and later adoptive) parents. DSHS later admitted that they failed to adequately vet the Wengers prior to licensing them as foster parents. The four children received a global settlement of $5,300,000.

Coster v. State of Washington

Four foster children suffered physical and sexual abuse in an unlicensed foster home on the Nooksack Indian Reservation. The children were placed in the home due to a lack of communication between DSHS and the Nooksack Indian tribe. As a result of this case, the children received compensation in the amount of $5,050,000. In addition, the case resulted in changes in the information sharing procedures between DSHS and various Native American service agencies.

Stokes v. State of Washington

Two children were starved and abused by their step mother, Rebecca Long, over a three year period. The State ignored ample warnings provided by teachers at the children’s schools.

Ressler & Tesh obtained a settlement of $4,600,000 for the two minors.

A.H. v. State of Washington

DSHS received dozens of reports over 10 years regarding abuse and neglect of A.H., yet completely failed to properly investigate or timely file for a dependency. When DSHS did remove A.H. from the mother’s home, it first placed A.H. into a foster home with a known history of sexual abuse. DSHS then placed A.H. with the biological father who had not being involved in the child’s life for over 10 years. The father had a conviction for child rape, which DSHS had failed to uncover, in addition to numerous other violent criminal convictions. A.H. endured sexual and physical abuse in both homes.

Ressler & Tesh obtained a recovery of $2,600,000 on behalf of A.H.

J.L. and L.L. v. DSHS

Two young children were sexually abused in their biological home and then placed by DSHS in the home of Nancy and Richard Wheeler where they were sexually abused by another minor. The children obtained a settlement of $1,825,000 which was used to purchase annuities which will provide support and counseling for the children over their lifetimes.

J.W. v. State of Washington

DSHS issued a foster care license to a convicted sex offender Jason Boothby. Subsequently, DSHS placed foster child J.W. with Boothby. DSHS failed to investigate Boothby’s background and failed to review its own juvenile records regarding Boothby. J.W. was sexually abused for over a year. Ressler & Tesh was able to obtain a $1,750,000 recovery for J.W.

Murray v. State of Washington

Having previously terminated the parental rights of James and Tracy Wright, the State nonetheless allowed them to care for four Oak Harbor children where they suffered horrific physical and sexual abuse. Ressler & Tesh obtained $1,500,000 to provide future care and counseling for the children.

J.T.B. and A.B.B. v. State of Washington

DSHS placed two children into the Thurston County home of Tony and Linda White. DSHS was aware that Tony White had been previously accused of sexually abusing minors on numerous prior occasions. Nonetheless, DSHS placed the then 4 and 6 year old children in the home where they were sexually abused.

The children’s claims were settled for $1,120,000. 

R.A., et al v. Corp. Of Catholic Archbishop of Seattle

H.C. and P.C. were sexually abused while attending Seattle’s O’Dea Highschool in the mid-1970s.  Both were sexually molested by Brother Edward Courtney who had been moved from school to school by the Christian Brothers Institute despite numerous allegations. Combined settlements against Christian Brothers and the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle totaled $1,050,000.


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