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UPDATE

On September 29, 2017, the Spokane County Superior Court approved the settlement agreement in the Martin v. State of Washington, et. al. case. It is anticipated that Class Members should be receiving payments sometime by the end of the year provided no appeal is taken of the September 29, 2017 order.


The information contained on this website is only a summary. 

SUMMARY OF THE LAWSUIT

Washington state law requires state agencies like the Washington State Patrol to give veteran preference points to eligible honorably discharged military veterans. Washington state and federal law also require the WSP to (a) give veteran preference promotion points to eligible individuals who leave their employment with WSP, serve in the military, and then return to the WSP; and (b) adjust the servicemember-employee’s probationary period start/end date to account for their military leave; and (c) not adjust a servicemember-employee’s military leave in a manner contrary to the state law leave requirements.

The lawsuit alleges that the WSP failed to follow the above-referenced laws and seeks compensation and other relief for current and former WSP Troopers, Sergeants, and Lieutenants and for applicants for the position of Trooper at the WSP (or their surviving spouses or heirs), who were harmed by the WSP’s alleged violations of the laws. All of the claims in this lawsuit – which are brought under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) and the federal Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution – are described in detail in the Second Amended Complaint in this lawsuit, which is available to view and download from the Court Documents tab of this website.

CLASS DEFINITIONS

On June 9, 2017, the court overseeing this lawsuit – the Spokane County, Washington, Superior Court – certified a Class of current and former Washington State Patrol employees and applicants to the Washington State Patrol. The Class is defined in the following manner:

(1)   individuals who, prior to January 1, 2013, applied for employment in the position of Trooper with the Washington State Patrol or were employed by and applied for a promotion to a higher-ranking position of employment within the Washington State Patrol, including a position with the rank of Sergeant, or Lieutenant; and

(2)   individuals who were eligible to receive a veteran preference pursuant to RCW 41.04.010(1)-(3) with respect to such application for a position of employment or application for a promotion to a higher-ranking position of employment; and

(3)   individuals who on one or more occasions did not receive such veteran preference in connection with such application for a position of employment or for a promotion to a higher-ranking position of employment.

Under the Settlement, this Class is divided into two categories for the purpose of determining the relief that will be provided to eligible Class Members: (1) Employee Class Members, who were employed by the WSP as commissioned employees before January 1, 2013, and (2) Applicant Class Members, who applied to work for the WSP as commissioned employees but were never hired or employed by the WSP as commissioned employees before January 1, 2013.

If you have not been previously identified by the parties as a Class Member, you may still be a Class Member and be entitled to receive a payment or other benefits under the Settlement. However, if you have not already been identified as a Class Member, you must submit a challenge to demonstrate your membership in the Class in order to receive any payment or other benefits under the Settlement.

A SUMMARY OF YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS

Do Nothing.

If you have already been identified by the parties as a Class Member and you do nothing, you will receive the payment that you may be entitled to receive under the Settlement.

 

 

 

 

Challenge

Defendants’ Data.

Depending on your circumstance, you may submit one or more of three types of challenges:

* Establish Your Membership in the Class: If you did not receive a personalized worksheet, but believe you are a member of the Class, you must submit a challenge to demonstrate your membership in the Class to receive any payment under the Settlement.  Details on how to submit a Challenge are included on the How to Submit a Challenge tab of this website.

* Challenge Data Used to Calculate Payments to Employee Class Members: If you received a personalized worksheet and you disagree with the data, you can submit a challenge to that data.

* Challenge Data to Correct Hiring/Promotion Dates For Employee Class Members: If you are not among the Employee Class Members for whom Defendants agreed to correct hiring or promotion dates (as described in Section 10 of the Notice, you may submit a challenge to establish your right to have those dates corrected.

All challenges must be submitted to the Notice Administrator by August 28, 2017.

Exclude Yourself.

You can exclude yourself, or “opt out” from this lawsuit, and the proposed Settlement. This means that you will not participate in the Settlement and will keep any rights that you may have to pursue claims against the Defendants separately. Any claims that you may have against the Defendants may be subject to an applicable statute of limitations, so you should consult an attorney about them promptly if you choose to opt out of the lawsuit. To opt out, you must submit a timely request to opt out by August 28, 2017.

Object.

If you are not satisfied with the terms of the proposed Settlement, then you may inform the Court about your views by filing a written objection with the Court in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Notice. You may also appear in Court to explain why you do not like the proposed Settlement. You are allowed to object to the proposed Settlement even if you submit a challenge to demonstrate your membership in the Class, the personnel information used to calculate your payment under the Settlement, or your hiring or promotion date. You cannot, however, opt out and object to the proposed Settlement. In order to object to the settlement, you must submit your objection by August 28, 2017.

 

WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT?

The proposed Settlement requires the State of Washington to (1) pay $13 million to compensate Class Members for the denial of the veteran preference in the WSP’s hiring and promotion process and other violations alleged by the Plaintiffs, and also (2) to correct the hiring dates and/or promotion dates for certain Employee Class Members who were impacted by the failure to provide the veteran preference in the hiring or promotion process, and for such Employee Class Members make additional payments so that that these individuals receive increased retirement benefits. The increased retirement benefits are estimated to be worth in aggregate up to $2 million, and will be paid through contributions to the retirement fund.

The $13 million will be used to compensate Employee Class Members and Applicant Class Members, as well as to pay the attorneys’ fees and expenses of Class Counsel, service awards for the Named Plaintiffs, and certain costs of administering the Settlement (including costs of a professional Settlement Administrator and the hiring of a Special Master to resolve backdating challenges). The payment that each eligible Class Member will receive from the $13 million settlement fund will be determined by a Plan of Allocation that Class Counsel has recommended and must be approved by the Court. A summary of the proposed Plan of Allocation is included on the Plan of Allocation tab of this website, where you may also view and download a complete copy of the Plan of Allocation.

Defendants will correct the hiring dates and/or promotion dates of eligible Employee Class Members (i.e., backdating the hiring dates or promotion dates), which may increase or improve eligible Class Members’ seniority, wages, benefits, and/or promotion opportunities in the future.

For any Employee Class Members whom Defendants have either agreed to correct hiring or promotion dates or the Special Master determines that the hiring dates must be corrected, Defendants will also correct service dates for their pension/retirement benefits. For those Employee Class Members, Defendants will make any necessary pension contributions for employer contributions as well as any interest payments assessed by the Department of Retirement Services (whether the interest is based on employee or employer contributions).

As Defendants contend that an employee contribution must be made in order to receive the retirement benefits, Class Counsel have agreed to reserve at least $65,000.00 – which represents the amount of employee contributions for the 136 Employee Class Members whom Defendants have agreed to adjust their pension service credit – of the $13 million to pay the employee share of the pension contributions; however, Class Counsel may reserve an additional amount to pay all or some of the employee contributions of other Employee Class Members who successfully challenge their hiring or promotion dates. To the extent that there is an insufficient amount in the reserve to cover the employee pension contributions for Employee Class Members whose challenge established their right to adjusted pension service credit, Washington State may issue a bill for the employee pension contribution.

Finally, in the future the WSP has agreed to provide veteran preference examination points, in accordance with and so long as consistent with Washington state law, to the competitive examination for promotion to Lieutenant where the applicant: (1) was called to active military service from employment with Washington state or any of its political subdivisions or municipal corporations; and (2) has not received the veteran preference on any other promotional examination taken in connection with employment with Washington state or any of its political subdivisions or municipal corporations; and (3) the promotion to Lieutenant is the first promotion the applicant has sought since the applicant was called to active military service from employment with Washington state or any of its political subdivisions or municipal corporations.  

WHAT ARE CLASS MEMBERS GIVING UP AS A RESULT OF THE SETTLEMENT?

If the Court grants final approval of the Settlement and the Settlement becomes effective, then all Class Members who do not opt out of the settlement on a timely basis will give up – in legal terms, release – their right to sue Defendants for failing to provide them with the veteran preference prior to December 21, 2016. Even Class Members who do not opt out will not release any claims for declaratory or injunctive relief regarding Statutory Military Leave per year under Washington State law, RCW 38.40.060 or any claims for monetary relief regarding Statutory Military Leave that accrued on or after December 21, 2016. Unless you opt out of the lawsuit, you will be covered by the Release, regardless of whether you have already been identified as a Class Member by the parties and regardless of whether you receive a payment under the Settlement. The full details of the Release are contained in Section XIII of the Settlement Agreement between the parties, which can be viewed and downloaded from the Court Documents Tab. of this website.

THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING THE CLASS

Peter Romer-Friedman, Esq.
Michelle Leung, Paralegal
Outten & Golden LLP
601 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Second Floor West
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 847-4400
prf@outtengolden.com
http://www.outtengolden.com/

 

Matthew Z. Crotty, Esq.
Crotty & Son PLLC
905 W. Riverside Ave.
Suite 409
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 850-7011
matt@crottyandson.com
http://crottyandson.com/

R. Joseph Barton, Esq.
Ming Siegel, Paralegal
Block & Leviton LLP
1735 20th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009 
(202) 734-7046
wspsettlement@blockesq.com 
http://www.blockleviton.com/

 

 
Thomas G. Jarrard, Esq.
Law Office of Thomas Jarrard
1020 N. Washington Street
Spokane, WA 99201
(425) 239-7290
tjarrard@att.net
http://servicememberlaw.com/

 

THE COURT’S FAIRNESS HEARING

The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing (also called a Fairness Hearing) at 10:00 a.m. on September 29, 2017, in the courtroom of the Honorable John O. Cooney, at 1116 W. Broadway Avenue, Spokane, WA 99260.

At the Final Approval Hearing, the Court will determine whether the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are any objections, then the Court will consider them. The Court will also consider whether the motion of Class Counsel for an award of attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses should be approved, whether Plaintiffs’ motion for service awards for the Class Representatives should be approved, and whether, in accordance with the Settlement, a final order and judgment should be entered bringing the litigation to a conclusion.

Class Counsel and the Defendants’ counsel will answer questions that the Judge may have. If you send an objection, then you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it, but you are entitled to if you want to. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it.

You may speak at the Fairness Hearing only if you have filed an objection. You may appear either in person or through a lawyer hired at your own expense. You may withdraw your objections at any time. 

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