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Washington DSHS/CPS Foster Abuse and Neglect Lawyers

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As Washington DSHS/CPS foster abuse lawyers, we initiate litigation against the State of Washington on behalf of those who have suffered horrific abuse and neglect as the result of the failure by the state to protect them.  We represent those who have been starved, severely beaten, locked away, repeatedly raped and sexually molested, and the families and loved ones of those who have died as the result of state negligence.

The Tragic Failures of DSHS and CPS

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”) is charged in part with overseeing the state’s foster care system. Through its agency, Child Protective Services (“CPS”), it also is charged with investigating and taking appropriate protective action when abuse or neglect of children is suspected.

Tragically, DSHS and CPS sometimes appallingly fail to do their jobs.  When this happens, horrific abuse, neglect, and death can result.  Child sexual predators are allowed to become foster parents.  Reported claims of abuse are not properly investigated, or appropriate protective action is not taken.  Abuse, neglect, and rape continue, and sometimes death occurs.

Our Clients Have Suffered Greatly

The negligence of the State of Washington is often the result of:

  • Placing children with foster parents who should never have been eligible to server as foster parents (which could be as the result of a history of violence, substance abuse, alcoholism, or severe mental illness);
  • Failing to adequately investigate reports of possible abuse or neglect;
  • Failing to detect environments in which abuse or neglect is likely to occur; or
  • Failing to ensure that those placed in foster care are in safe environments, free from abuse or neglect.

When the state fails in any of these areas, our children pay a horrible price.  Unfortunately, our system will only change when the state is forced to confront its failings and the horrific abuse that results.

We Sue the State of Washington for its Wrongful Actions and Negligence

When the state is responsible for wrongdoing, victims (and often attorneys) are hesitant to sue.  This is not the case with our firm.

We have successfully sued the State of Washington many times and have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients who have suffered terribly as the result of the negligence and disastrous decisions by DSHS and CPS. We seek full financial compensation for the injuries and psychological damage inflicted, and for the long-term intensive therapy often required.  We know that injuries and pain and suffering continue long after physical abuse stops.  We work tirelessly to prove liability and the full extent of the damages suffered by our clients in order to recover for them every penny in compensation to which they are entitled.

It’s Never Too Late

Whether the abuse occurred recently, or many years ago, it’s never too late to pursue justice for childhood abuse. Though many types of cases are barred after a certain period of time under the statute of limitations, childhood abuse, and especially childhood sexual abuse, has special exceptions that can allow a claim to be pursued many years – even decades – later. If you or someone you love was the victim of childhood abuse, please contact us today.

Call Us Today to Learn How We Can Help You

If you or a loved one has suffered from abuse or neglect as the result of negligence on the part of DSHS or CPS, please contact us today.  We offer a free, no-obligation consultation, and when we learn about your case, we can advise you of your options to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages.  We accept cases on a contingency basis, meaning that there are no fees for us unless and until we obtain a recovery for you.  In the interim, we have created this site to provide information about our services and recent cases of child abuse as the result of the failure by state agencies to take appropriate action.  We hope that you will join our cause and urge states to implement the proper procedures and oversight needed to ensure the safety of our children.

Client Stories Play/Pause

Breean Begs v. State of Washington

Spokane Co. Case No. 07-2-05477-9

Tyler DeLeon died of starvation on his 7th birthday. He weighed 28 pounds having been starved and abused by his foster mother, Carole DeLeon. This case resulted in an appeal heard by the Washington State Supreme Court, which clarified the law allowing health care providers to be sued solely for their failure to report suspected signs of abuse under RCW 26.44 as distinguished from medical malpractice actions.  Beggs v. DHSH 171 Wn. 2d 69. In 2012, DSHS settled their portion of the case for $4,751,175.00.

Stokes v. State of Washington

King Co. Case No. 10-2-20990-5 SEA

Two children were starved and abused by their step mother, Rebecca Long, over a three year period.  The State ignored ample warnings provided by teachers at the children’s schools. Ressler & Tesh obtained a settlement of $4,600,000.00 for the two minors.

Coster v. State of Washington

US District Court No. C01-1964(Z)

Four foster children suffered physical and sexual abuse in an unlicensed foster home on the Nooksack Indian Reservation. The children were placed in the home due to a lack of communication between DSHS and the Nooksack Indian tribe. As a result of this case, the children received compensation in the amount of $5,050,000.  In addition, the case resulted in changes in the information sharing procedures between DSHS and various Native American service agencies.

J.L. and L.L. v. DSHS

Pierce Co. Case No. 05-2-06431-1

Two young children were sexually abused in their biological home and then placed by DSHS in the home of Nancy and Richard Wheeler where they were sexually abused by another minor. The children obtained a settlement of $1,825,00 which was used to purchase annuities which will provide support and counseling for the children over their lifetimes.

J.T.B. and A.B.B v. State of Washington

Thurston Co. Case No. 04-2-02625-1

DSHS placed two children into the Thurston County home of Tony and Linda White. DSHS was aware that Tony White had been previously accused of sexually abusing minors on numerous prior occasions. Nonetheless, DSHS placed the then 4 and 6 year old children in the home where they were sexually abused. The children’s claims were settled for $1,120,000.

Murray v. State of Washington

Island Co. Case No. 04-2-00261-8

Having previously terminated the parental rights of James and Tracy Wright, the State nonetheless allowed them to care for four Oak Harbor children where they suffered horrific physical and sexual abuse. Ressler & Tesh obtained $1,500,000.00 to provide future care and counseling for the children.

Wenger v. State of Washington

US District Court East Dist. Case No. CV-11-222-JLQ

Four children were placed into an abusive home where they were abused both physically and sexually by their foster (and later adoptive) parents. DSHS later admitted that they failed to adequately vet the Wengers prior to licensing them as foster parents. The four children received a global settlement of $5,300,000.00.

M.R. v. State of Washington

(Settled prior to filing)

A six year old boy was removed from his biological home by DSHS and placed in a foster home with sexually aggressive teens. He was sexually abused by a thirteen year old foster sibling before being returned to his biological mother. Ressler & Tesh obtained $375,000 for the child.

Mann v. State of Washington

Spokane Co. Case No. 08-2-04871-8  

A four year old girl was beaten to death by her father and her step-mother in their Spokane area home. Ressler and Tesh represented the child’s mother and obtained a settlement for $269,500.00.


On the Docket - Cases and Our Blog


Washington Child Abuse Lawyers

Allen M. Ressler

Allen Ressler has been practicing personal injury law for nearly 40 years. Much of his practice is focused on representing children who have been abused as the result of negligence and inaction by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”) and Child Protective Services (“CPS”). Mr. Ressler successfully represented a client in a major Washington Supreme Court case where the Supreme Court recognized the right of individuals to bring lawsuits against mandatory abuse reporters (such as doctors and teachers).

Timothy R. Tesh

Mr. Tesh devotes a substantial portion of his practice to representing those who have suffered significant abuse in the Washington foster care system and as a result of CPS negligence. Together with partner Allen Ressler, Mr. Tesh has obtained a number of multi-million dollar verdicts against the State of Washington for negligence resulting in the horrific abuse and death of children. Both partners are strongly committed to the improvement of the DSHS/CPS system to prevent future abuse and death from occurring.

Jonathan S. Barash

Mr. Barash has been with Ressler & Tesh since 2003, when he was in law school. Upon graduation and admission to the Washington Bar in 2005, Mr. Barash joined Ressler & Tesh; his practice is now focused on personal injury law and representing those injured and abused as the result of DSHS/CPS negligence. In addition to working tirelessly on behalf of firm clients, as a father of two young boys himself, Mr. Barash is passionate about seeing that no more children “fall through the cracks” in Washington’s foster care system and become the subject of abuse or neglect.