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December 28, 2020

The Stritmatter Firm and Layman Law Firm represent dozens of people in a lawsuit against Seattle Children’s Hospital for its admitted Aspergillus exposure over two decades. When infections mounted again more than a year ago, multiple news organizations began asking questions of our health oversight agencies, namely King County Public Health, which is responsible for “Protecting and improving the health and well-being of King County.”

Despite admitting long-term Aspergillus contamination in the hospital, Seattle Children’s intervened, claiming that its communications with a public agency that reports to the public were not, in fact, public. Seattle Children’s tried to prevent the public from learning more about the safety of the hospital by alleging that its coordination with state officials was part of its internal “quality improvement” committee. The trial judge disagreed, and Seattle Children’s appealed.

Though not a party to the case, Seattle Children’s Hospital v. King 5 et al., the Court of Appeals permitted the Stritmatter Firm to file a brief in support of open disclosure of safety information:

[We] grant the Stritmatter Firm’s motion to file the amicus brief. The Stritmatter Firm filed a class action lawsuit against SCH on behalf of multiple families of children who contracted aspergillus infections after medical procedures at SCH. All but one of the six named class representatives died after contracting aspergillus infections at SCH. The Stritmatter Firm argues disclosure of the records at issue is in the public’s interest, and public disclosure of the documents will prevent further harm to potential patients and doctors as well as the families and children already affected by the aspergillus outbreaks at SCH.

Today, Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge, finding that Seattle Children’s communications with public agencies cannot be withheld from the public. The Court specifically points out that just because Seattle Children’s labels something “confidential and protected quality improvement,” that doesn’t deprive the public from accessing important safety information. Rather, King County Public Health was conducting “a public health investigation about a notifiable condition,” and Public Health officials “did not believe they were part of the [quality investigation] process.”

You can access the Firm’s brief—primarily written by our appellate guru Garth Jones—and the Court of Appeals decision below.

Issuu is a digital publishing platform that makes it simple to publish magazines, catalogs, newspapers, books, and more online. Easily share your publications and get them in front of Issuu’s millions of monthly readers. Title: Seattle Children’s Hospital v. King 5, Author: Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore Law Firm, Name: Seattle Children’s Hospital v.