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August 18, 2001 - Settlement Agreement Could Eventually Help 9,000 Disabled People

If approved by the Legislature and a federal court judge, a tentative settlement reached yesterday between the state Department of Social and Health Services in Washington and advocates for the disabled would bring $14 million in expanded services in 2003, and at least $25 million more in 2004 and 2005 for people with mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

It is estimated that 9,000 of the estimated 89,000 developmentally disabled people in Washington are waiting for state help. If the settlement wins legislative approval, about 1,800 initially would have access to new or expanded services.

The settlement followed a recent state audit of how the Division of Developmental Disabilities spent $200 million a year serving disabled people who chose to live on their own rather than in a state-run institution. The audit found that the state's oversight of services for disabled people was "so limited as to pose high risks for the individuals being served" and that the disabled were getting only 45 percent of the mandated services they needed.

Linda Rolfe, acting director of DSHS's Division of Developmental Disabilities, said the settlement has a "good chance" of winning Legislative approval because of the potential risks of taking the case to court. "The advantage of the settlement is it allows us to plan for and develop these services over time," said Rolfe. DSHS leaders said at the time that they were not surprised by the audit's findings, because the department was under-funded and its case managers handled as many as 141 cases each.

The class action settlement could also help parents who care for extremely disabled children at home since an increasing number of parents with disabled children are reaching their 60s and 70s and finding that they no longer have the stamina to bathe, dress, feed and entertain their disabled adult children. Many parents also face a care crisis when their disabled children reach 21 and can no longer attend school.

In cerebral palsy cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, review the medical procedures in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate the birth record and injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of cerebral palsy, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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