SEATTLE — Kenny Williams died at Monroe Correctional Complex two years ago after having cancer that went untreated despite his repeated pleas to the state Department of Corrections.
His case has been cited by a state watchdog report as an egregious example of Corrections’ repeated failures to provide lifesaving health care for people who are incarcerated in state prisons, The Seattle Times reported.
Now, Williams’ family is suing the department in King County Superior Court, alleging “systemic negligence” led to his suffering and death. The suit seeks $10 million in damages.
“If we don’t accomplish anything else, we’re hoping no one else has to go through this pain and suffering,” Dee Johnson, Williams’ widow, told the newspaper.
A Corrections spokesperson said the agency does not comment on pending litigation, but said the department has made systemwide health care policy and training changes since Williams’ death.
Williams, 63, died in June 2019 of breast cancer that had metastasized into his bones after Corrections failed to provide chemotherapy that could have saved him.
His lack of treatment was documented in a scathing 2019 report by the Office of the Corrections Ombuds, which investigates complaints by incarcerated people and their families. Many of its findings are echoed in the new lawsuit.
Williams was a talented guitarist and songwriter, playing in bands including Crazy Texas Gypsies, opening for acts such as ZZ Top and Delbert McClinton.
He entered prison after pleading guilty in 2016 to two counts of second-degree assault for shooting a man after a night of drinking in Kent. He had been scheduled for release this fall.