Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Attorney General McKenna appeared on KONA Radio this morning with Jeff Phillips. The subject is saving taxpayer money by reducing the cost of lawsuits against the state. Jeff was kind enough to allow us to post the audio on this blog. And speaking of lawsuit reform, the News Tribune opines on that very subject today:

When a person is injured on a state highway, when a foster child is abused or when a released prisoner commits a horrible crime, sometimes it’s because state employees were negligent in performing their jobs. In those cases, it makes sense that the state would pay damages.

But should it pay more than any other state?

That’s the case now because Washington exposes itself to more liability than any other state in the Union. In fact, compared to states of equal population, Washington paid out four to 12 times the amount in judgments last year.

Take Massachusetts and Arizona, for instance. With comparable populations of about 6.5 million, they only paid out $13 million and $8.5 million, respectively, in 2009. Washington paid out more than $50 million – plus spent another $19 million in legal costs fighting the lawsuits.

That’s almost $70 million that isn’t going toward such state duties as fixing highways, providing oversight of foster children and tracking released prisoners – the very actions that could prevent future injuries, deaths and lawsuits.

To learn more, check out AG McKenna's Seattle Times op-ed from earlier this year. In a tough budget cycle, you'll be hearing more about this subject.

-Dan Sytman-