MARYSVILLE — In 2018, Joshua Klick was referred to a mental health counselor at Compass Health in Marysville.
What followed was an “unethical and inappropriate” relationship that resulted in his death two years later, a lawsuit Klick’s estate filed this month in Snohomish County Superior Court alleges. Klick was 31 when he died.
The wrongful death lawsuit claims the counselor and Klick, of Marysville, started dating in September 2018. A month later, Klick moved into the counselor’s home with her two young children. By January 2019, he stopped going to therapy. He slipped back into drug abuse.
The counselor stopped working at Compass Health in October 2018, CEO Tom Sebastian said in a statement.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Klick’s family, friends and all those affected by this heartbreaking loss,” Sebastian said.
He said Compass Health records “show no indication of inappropriate or unethical behavior” during the counselor’s tenure.
Klick and the counselor’s “tumultuous” relationship was off and on for about 18 months, according to the lawsuit. He continued to need help for opioid use. His brother found a methadone clinic through the Stillaguamish Tribe that looked promising. But Klick’s counselor and romantic partner told him he couldn’t go there because she worked for the tribe. She didn’t want her employer to know about their relationship, the lawsuit states.
In November 2019, Klick was arrested after being accused of biting the counselor at the home they lived in together, according to police.
Then in April 2020, Klick moved out of the counselor’s home. In one of his last nights at the home, he showed her a silver gun, according to an Arlington detective’s report. She told him it scared her. Klick later told her he gave the gun to someone else for “safekeeping” because he didn’t trust himself not to hurt her.
Later that month, her old high school classmate showed up from Colorado. He brought two guns, the lawsuit claims.
Days later, on May 4, Klick texted his former girlfriend dozens of times, according to the detective’s report.
“Ok I am so so sorry,” he reportedly wrote in one text, adding “Now u (can) say I broke into the house in shear terror u killed me. Okay. I accept.”
Klick reportedly showed up at her Arlington home and got in by climbing up the back deck. He and the Colorado man fought.
The Colorado man fired a warning shot into the floor with a Smith & Wesson pistol, according to an Arlington police report. He reported Klick came at him with a baking sheet, so he fired again, this time into Klick’s chest.
Over three weeks later, on May 28, Klick died of his injuries. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the manner of death was homicide. Prosecutors declined to file charges because they couldn’t prove “beyond a reasonable doubt, that (the Colorado man) did not act reasonably in self-defense.”
Last year, the state Department of Health found the counselor, now 39, violated sexual misconduct rules in her relationship with Klick. Her counselor’s license was suspended for three years. To get reinstated, she has to take an ethics course. Then she would be on probation for five years.
The lawsuit blames Compass Health, the counselor and the Colorado man, now 42, for Klick’s death. Seattle attorney Sarah Perez represents Klick’s estate.
The claim alleges assault by the Colorado man as well as negligence by both the counselor and Compass Health. It argues Compass Health “failed to properly train and supervise” the counselor.
“Compass Health bears responsibility and duty to exercise reasonable care in the hiring, training, and supervision of their agents and employees,” the lawsuit reads. “This duty includes the duty and responsibility to adequately train and hold accountable staff and its other agents to properly monitor and care for their mentally ill patients.”