PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The list of troopers planning to sue the State of Washington over carbon monoxide poisoning as grown to 7.
WSP Trooper Chad Prentice of Vancouver and Trooper Beth Joswick of Tacoma are the latest to file a $1 million tort claim with the state, according to lawyer Josephine Townsend. Townsend is representing 5 other state troopers in similar tort claims.
Their claims are backed up by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The agency’s investigation resulted in 3 citations against the WSP.
The report reads: “Exhaust issues have been discovered as the source of the exposure in most of the vehicles: cracked manifolds, warped manifolds, and other leaks in the exhaust system.”
In a statement, Ford blames after-market equipment installed on the police vehicles for creating unsealed holes.
“All of our testing to date has not shown cracked manifolds contributing to the carbon monoxide levels in Police Interceptor Utilities,” wrote spokesperson Daniel Barbossa.
In July, the Department of Labor and Industries installed carbon monoxide detectors in the troopers’ vehicles. Between then and Aug. 31, the alarms were triggered 50 times for unsafe exposure to carbon monoxide.
Captain Monica Alexander, the WSP spokesperson, told KOIN 6 News none of the troopers are forced to drive any of the 670 Ford Explorers in WSP’s fleet.
“Our troopers’ safety is our chief’s No. 1 priority. This is awful and we’re working to fix it,” she added.
According to Townsend, the troopers who have filed tort claims so far are Randall Cashatt, Klickitat County; Trooper David Hodel, Chehalis; Brandon Kendall, Colfax; Austin Lauer, Jeffrey Heath and Chad Prentice of Clark County.
The State of Washington has 60 days to decide if it wants to pay the troopers’ tort claims, before their lawyer can file a lawsuit.