DOC pays $350,000 in lawsuit settlement

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CONNELL, Wash.– The Department of Corrections has reached a $350,000 settlement with four people who worked at the Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility in Connell.

The employees were drug and alcohol counselors, who were contracted to work at the facility in 2008.

Tamaki Law in Yakima says during a bathroom remodeling project done by unsupervised inmates, the counselors were exposed to excessive dust and toxic chemicals for over three months.

They say jail administrators were told of the problem, but didn’t do anything to protect the workers or inmates.

The lawsuit says the exposure led to severe lung and respiratory problems for the plaintiffs.

“It was an egregious situation from the standpoint that several notices were given to DOC and they could care less about the problems,” said Blaine Tamaki.

In a statement, the DOC says, “a safe work place is a top priority of the department of corrections. A reasonable settlement was reached with the plaintiffs in this case.”

Tamaki says several inmates also suffered lung problems due to the dust and filed claims against the state.

Those claims were denied and since they did not have a lawyer, they weren’t able to continue the process.