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Lawyers For Oso Slide Victims Allege Evidence Fraud

Washington Governor's Office
A March 2014 landslide near Oso, Washington, killed 43 people and caused millions of dollars in damages.

Lawyers for victims of the deadly 2014 Oso landslide say the state of Washington has engaged in a “shocking” cover-up to hide evidence. The allegation, first reported by The Seattle Times, comes just five weeks before the state goes on trial.

In a 33-page court filing, the lawyers said subject matter experts hired by the state of Washington made a “secret pact” to delete all emails they sent each other. But some emails survived and the lawyers said they reveal the experts changed their opinions in order to protect the state’s interests.

The lawyers also alleged the decision to delete emails was made at a meeting that included representatives of the state Department of Natural Resources and the Attorney General’s office. The AG’s office said it will review the allegations and respond soon to the court.

The lawyers for the victims are asking the judge in the case to impose “severe sanctions” and exclude the experts from testifying at trial.

The Department of Natural Resources did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."