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$26,000 Settlement for Public Records Violations by Washington Jail

Washington state’s Kitsap County Jail paid $26,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim that resulted in “catastrophic injuries” to a prisoner. The claim also asserted violations of Washington’s public records law.

The claim was filed on behalf of William E. Trask for events that occurred in July and August 2006 at the Kitsap County Jail. Trask was disabled under the ADA but the jail failed or refused to provide him with necessary accommodations.

As a result, Trask sustained a hypernatremia that resulted in permanent brain damage. Since his release he has lived at an adult family home; he requires a guardian to care for him.

Trask’s Seattle-based attorneys, Allen Ressler and Timothy Tesh, made repeated public records requests to the jail and other Kitsap County agencies relative to Trask’s claim. County officials failed to respond to those requests, and a claim was filed on Trask’s behalf by attorney Andrew N. Becker to address both that issue and the ADA claim.

On October 7, 2007, Trask’s claim against Kitsap County was settled by his guardian, Marie Watson, for $26,000. The settlement was limited to only Trask’s claims stemming from the denial of his public records requests. See Trask v. Kitsap Co. Sheriff’s Office, et al., Pierce Co. Super. Ct., No. 08-2-05296-1. The settlement agreement is in PLN’s on line brief bank.

Separately, on June 12, 2009, the Pierce County Superior Court approved a settlement in the amount of $4.7 million in a lawsuit that alleged jail officials had neglected Trask’s medical and mental health needs, literally leaving him to “rot in his cell.” When Trask was taken from the jail to a hospital, he had gangrene in his left hand and kidney failure. [See: PLN, Oct. 2009, p.29].

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Related legal case

Trask v. Kitsap Co. Sheriff’s Office, et al.

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.