Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

$40,000 Assessed Against WA DOC For Failure To Release Contract Medical Provider's Records

$40,000 Assessed Against WA DOC For Failure To Release Contract Medical
Provider's Records

Columbia Legal Services (CLS) brought action against the Washington State
Department of Corrections (DOC) in 2003 for not providing public record
documents requested in accordance with Washington's Public Disclosure Act
(PDA), RCW 42.17. The Thurston County Superior Court ordered surrender of
the documents and assessed fines and fees.

CLS Project Director Patricia Arthur requested documents under the PDA
including the contract between DOC and Qualis Health, documents regarding
the medical provider's review committee functions and decisions, and
grievances filed regarding their service since July 1, 2002, when their
service began. Arthur acknowledged that certain information required
redaction prior to viewing. RCW 42.17.320 mandates agency response within
five business days. The agency must either provide the documents, deny the
request, or estimate the time needed to comply. DOC Public Disclosure
Coordinator Bob Gach informed Arthur a 20 day response was required. A
month later, Gach assured her that all documents were ready, with the
exception of the grievances which would require individual release waivers
as they were confidential and exempt from disclosure under 28 C.F.R. §
40.10. The remaining documents requested still were not available. An
administrative appeal was denied. Attempts to resolve the matter without
litigation, even from the Assistant Attorney General assigned to represent
the DOC, were futile. RCW 42.17.340 allows judicial review when a record
request is denied.

On judicial review, the Superior Court ordered the surrender of all
requested documents, with the redaction of only prisoners' names and DOC
numbers from the requested grievances. The Court awarded CLS $25,000 in
costs and fees and another $15,000 in statutory penalties. See: Columbia
Legal Services v. Department of Corrections, Case No. 03 2 01780 6, Dec. 5,

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Columbia Legal Services v. Department of Correctio