"Changing the World" - One Case at a Time

Our justice system can be complicated as it involves multiple levels of Courts with different levels of authority.  The Cunningham case (referenced below) was first dismissed by the King County Superior Court, then appealed to Division 1 of the Court of Appeals. It was agreed that the Cunningham case should be consolidated with others and sent to the Washington State Supreme Court which had the authority to change the law.  At the Supreme Court, the Justices listened and the law was changed. Access to justice was reinstated as a right for all citizens like the Cunningham family.  Our colleague Ed Harper, a respected lawyer and active member of the community, worked with the Pearson Law Firm to make a lasting difference. 

Here are the basic facts of the case:

In August 2000 Linda was seen by her primary care physician and referred for imaging studies to rule out any serious and life-threatening causes of her ongoing headaches. Linda, like all citizens, was legally entitled to receive quality health care services, including reasonable and prudent care.

The imaging studies (brain MRI and CT scans) were completed in August 2000 and reported as normal. In fact, the imaging studies were markedly abnormal and showed multiple images of tumors. Linda did not learn of the truth about the images taken in 2000 until February 2008 when she was informed by her treating doctors that her ongoing headaches would require multiple surgeries and treatments to save her life.  After her surgeries, Linda was left with many impairments, and due to the negligence of the radiology team in 2000 Linda lost the opportunity and the chance to live a more normal life.

The legal claims filed on behalf of Linda and her husband alleged treatment that was below the standard of care, and that the radiologists negligently failed to accurately review and accurately report the abnormalities on the images taken in 2000.  Attorneys for the radiologist, through the insurance company involved, argued that it was too late for Linda to bring her claim, pointing to several statutes that had created obstructions for citizen rights.

Citizens have the right to fight for justice, and principled advocacy is required.  The Cunningham case was successful in changing the laws and defeating obstructions to fair and impartial access to justice, and in achieving some restitution for Linda and her husband, who fought to protect the community and prevent these harms to others.

The Cunningham oral argument before the Washington State Supreme Court was recorded and you can view Jerry Pearson’s oral argument on behalf of the Cunningham’s  by clicking here.

Note: You will be redirected to the Washington State Supreme Court’s website.


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