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Washington state sued over death of woman at Rainier School care facility

The family of JoHanna Pratt say that her death at Rainier School, a state-run facility for people with disabilities, was preventable.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The family of a woman who died while in state care has filed a lawsuit against the state blaming the death on “inexcusable medical neglect.”

JoHanna Pratt, 33, died in 2017 while she was living at Rainier School, a state facility in Buckley for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Pratt had previously been part of a class action lawsuit against the state, asking the state to provide assistance for people with disabilities who wanted to live in the community rather than at a state facility.

Pratt died of a pulmonary embolism following foot surgery, according to Disability Rights Washington attorney Todd Carlisle.

The procedure happened off-campus, but when she returned to Rainier School and complained of difficulty breathing. She did not receive medical care until the next day after she had chest pains, Carlisle said.

“It was preventable, it was tragic,” he said.

Carlisle said a state investigation found the state did not have a plan to care for Pratt following her surgery.

He said Pratt’s mother is suing to hold the state accountable.

“They want they want to stop this sort of thing from happening to other people who are still at Rainier School,” Carlisle said.

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Social and Health Services, the state agency named in the lawsuit, said DSHS cannot comment on pending lawsuits. DSHS would not comment on any changes to procedures made in the wake of Pratt's death.

According to DSHS, 161 clients currently reside at Rainier School.

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