Class action suit pays $55M over denied healthcare

Employees denied coverage will get $618 for every month

US dollars (Public Domain Photos, Petr Kratochvil)
US dollars (Public Domain Photos, Petr Kratochvil)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands of people who worked for the State of Washington could be getting sizable checks in the mail starting Thursday.

The checks are part of a $55 million payout from a class action lawsuit filed against Washington’s healthcare authority. The suit found that some part time employees of the state were improperly denied healthcare benefits as far back as 2003.

The lawsuit was filed 11 years ago by Doug Moore, who worked seasonally at the Emerald Downs racetrack. He noticed substitute teachers had won a suit to receive year round healthcare and he seemed to be in the same situation as them.

It took a few years to gather information because so many state agencies were making the same mistake, and the lawsuit was filed in 2006. It compelled the state legislature to change the code in 2010 to make all part time employees eligible for healthcare.

Read: The final distribution agreement

“That feels pretty good,” Moore said. “I’m glad we made a difference.”

Those part time employees will get $618 for every month they were employed without healthcare.

“There’s many class members who are going to receive tens of thousands of dollars from the settlement,” said Stephen Festor, the plaintiff’s attorney said. “Every class member will receive a minimum of $1,800 and there’s many class members who are going to receive tens of thousands of dollars from the settlement.”

The plaintiff is only getting about $3,500 back, but the lawsuit has about 7,000 members, some of whom were denied 40, 50 or 60 months of healthcare.

“It’s not a large settlement for me personally but I’m glad that the people that probably can really use that money are gonna get that money back,” Moore said. “I’m sure a lot of them don’t even really realize it’s coming so it’ll be a nice surprise for them.”

Someone with 60 months on their claim would be getting a check for $37,000 in the payout.