Crime

A patient died after collapsing at Western State Hospital. His family is suing.

The family of Lavonn Williams II has sued the state, alleging negligent medical care at Western State Hospital led to his death.
The family of Lavonn Williams II has sued the state, alleging negligent medical care at Western State Hospital led to his death. The Associated Press

The family of a patient at Western State Hospital has sued the state, alleging that negligent medical care at the facility led to his death.

Lavonn Williams II’s family said he died from a pulmonary embolism in December 2014, less than six months after he was committed to the hospital, according to tort claims they filed as a precursor to their lawsuit.

They argue he didn’t get proper, timely care after he collapsed at the inpatient psychiatric facility several years ago. By the time he was taken to another local hospital for medical care days later, it was too late, according to the lawsuit.

DSHS spokeswoman Kelly Stowe said Friday that the agency would not comment on pending litigation.

Williams’ four adult children and one minor child filed the suit Feb. 7.

It names the state, the hospital, and the state Department of Social and Health Services.

The adult children bringing the lawsuit are Arquelle Williams, Maronica Williams, Isaiah Williams, and Tajanae Williams. The minor is represented in the suit by her mother, Latisha Coachman.

Each sought $300,000 in the tort claims, though the lawsuit itself seeks unspecified damages.

“Lavonn Williams II passed away as a result of the negligent medical care and treatment provided by the defendants while at WSH,” reads the lawsuit, filed by attorneys Jeffrey Sadler and John Messina.

A complaint the family filed with the state Department of Health after his death gives this account of what happened:

Williams became lightheaded while he was in line during a fire drill, fell down and appeared to have a seizure.

He had a fever, a cough, an elevated heart rate and trouble breathing in the days that followed and ultimately died at another local hospital.

Had he been taken to an emergency room sooner, “he would likely be alive today,” the family wrote.

Maribeth Messina, a paralegal for Sadler, said Friday that Lavonn Williams’ children had called, visited and written letters to their father during his time at Western State.

“They’ve really lost something,” she said.

Williams was committed to Western State in June 2014 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity to charges that he killed his mother and tried to kill his father.

Williams fatally beat 56-year-old Brenda Williams on April 30, 2012 at her Spanaway home, according to court records.

Charging papers said that he’d been asked to leave the home and did. But he allegedly returned later and used a chair and a vacuum cleaner to injure his parents.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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