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Behavioral Health

Williams Kastner is a preeminent behavioral health law firm in Washington, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest. Our attorneys provide advice, education, counsel, and litigation services and support to healthcare systems, hospitals, residential facilities, inpatient and outpatient behavioral health providers, and industry organizations. Our team of attorneys has the knowledge and experience to help clients problem solve in the unique behavioral health context. In 2014, we represented two hospital systems in the landmark Washington Supreme Court case In the Matter of the Detention of D.W., 332 P.3d 423, which held that the practice of psychiatric boarding in acute care hospitals cannot be used as a remedy for lack of capacity in appropriate treatment facilities.

Behavioral Health Alerts

Our experience and capabilities include:

Advice, education, and counsel

  • Review and drafting of policies, procedures, and guidelines
  • Opinion letters
  • Medical decision making, surrogate decision makers, and consent issues
  • Capacity and competency
  • Risk management
  • Staff and leadership training
  • Minors and parent-initiated treatment
  • Geropsychiatry issues
  • Single bed certifications
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Crisis management and media relations
  • Reimbursement and parity

Litigation and regulatory compliance

  • Civil commitment court litigation
  • Medical and psychiatric malpractice defense
  • Appeals
  • Corrections litigation
  • Class actions
  • Managed care
  • Workplace violence
  • Guardianships
  • Licensing matters and disciplinary proceedings
  • EMTALA and other enforcement actions
  • Compliance with Medicare and Medicaid requirements
  • HIPAA and confidentiality, including:
    • Privacy standards
    • Standards for electronic transactions
    • Security standards
    • Breach notification and response
    • Part 2 substance abuse


Representative cases and projects

  • Represented two health systems, at the trial court level and then on appeal to the Washington Supreme Court. This landmark case established the right of patients to appropriate mental health treatment when detained pursuant to civil commitment laws (2014)
  • Represented  community hospital in obtaining a court order requiring the state hospital to admit civilly committed patient; state hospital was fined and ordered to pay client’s attorney fees (2014)
  • Defended medical and mental health provider for metropolitan jail in civil rights lawsuit involving death of inmate who suffered from mental disorder (2014)
  • Defense verdict in favor of mental health provider after an eleven-day trial involving claim of failure to prevent suicide (2013)
  • Obtained summary judgment dismissal for hospital client in case alleging failure to prevent suicide of minor patient (2012)
  • Defended subacute psychiatric facility in lawsuit alleging failure to prevent suicide of resident (2013)
  • Assisted with investigations of adverse events in Washington and Oregon inpatient, outpatient, and residential behavioral health settings
  • Drafted policies and procedures regarding admission of patients to adult and minor inpatient psychiatric units
  • Evaluated electronic health record (EHR) system and advised regarding access to Part 2 substance abuse records within integrated health system
  • Developed procedures for hospital-based civil commitment hearings
  • Drafted guidance documents for hospital patient flow of detained and civilly committed patients
  • Pursued numerous guardianships for patients who lacked ability to understand their medical care and were unable to safely provide for their daily needs due to mental health problems
  • Advised hospitals and providers regarding Washington’s Minor Mental Health Act including voluntary, involuntary, and parent-initiated treatment
  • Consulted with prosecutors, defense attorneys, court officials, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders about civil commitment issues in Oregon and Washington
  • Frequent writers, presenters and consultants on behavioral health topics

Attorneys in this Practice