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Wash. Pays Out $60M In Damages Over Past 12 Months

Austin Jenkins


OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state paid out nearly $60 million in damage claims during the fiscal year that ends this month. Nearly a third of that went to one man –- a motorist who was paralyzed in a traffic accident.

In the summer of 2007, Koti Hu was stopped at a metered freeway on-ramp on Seattle’s eastside. A musician in his twenties, Hu was rear-ended at high speed by a pick-up and left paralyzed. A jury found the onramp was poorly designed.

The state of Washington has now paid Hu $19 million -– most of it out of an excess insurance fund. That represents the single largest lawsuit payout over the last 12 months.

But it’s one of hundreds.

“The number of claims, serious claims, we’re getting is going down but we’re paying a higher amount on claims, says Lucy Isaki, Washington’s risk manager. "So that’s a trend that is both good and concerning.”

The list of damages paid reads like a tale of tragedy: children sexually and physically abused while under state supervision. Innocent victims gunned down or assaulted by former inmates. And an elderly woman who died from neglect.

But the list also includes this: $1,000 paid to a prison inmate subjected to filthy shower conditions.

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Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network