Payouts on lawsuits and other legal claims cost Washington taxpayers nearly $60 million in fiscal year 2015. That’s according to a state report issued Thursday.
The Department of Social and Health Services accounted for nearly half the payouts. One of the biggest awards was nearly $10 million to five children severely abused at the hands of their parents. DSHS failed to protect the children despite multiple referrals.
The Washington Department of Transportation and the State Patrol split another $10 million payout. This one to a family of six crushed in their Suburban when a snow and ice laden tree fell across Highway 2 near Leavenworth. Two of the family members were killed. The Patrol and DOT had discussed closing the highway prior to the tree falling.
The number of tort claims against the state of Washington has declined in the past eight years while the amount paid out has fluctuated. Defending these cases also comes at a price: nearly $150 million in legal fees over the past eight years.