Washington state family sues state over death after surgery

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The family of a woman who lived at a Washington state facility filed a lawsuit alleging neglect that caused her death following bunion surgery.

The lawsuit says 33-year-old JoHanna Pratt died from a pulmonary embolism after the surgery in 2017, The News Tribune reports.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Staff at Rainier School, a state facility for adults with developmental disabilities, had instructions from Pratt's doctor to monitor her for trouble breathing, the lawsuit against the state says.

Pratt had a “mild intellectual disability” and had lived at the Rainier School since 2012, the lawsuit said.

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services operates the facility in the the small city of Buckley, southeast of Tacoma.

Department spokesperson Lisa Copeland said the agency could not comment on pending litigation.

“I can tell you we take all allegations very seriously. The safety and well-being of our clients is our first priority,” Copeland said in a statement last Friday.

Family attorney Chris Carney said Pratt was “completely dependent” on school staff who he alleged caused her death.

“This tragedy could have been avoided if the State had simply followed the instructions given by JoHanna’s doctor. The State must be held accountable," Carney said in a statement.