Tacoma Woman With Tuberculosis Asks for 'Relief From Confinement’


A new order issued Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court reset the clock on a Tacoma woman's time in jail to continue testing and treatment for tuberculosis, with another review scheduled for next week.

The latest action came after the woman's attorney filed a "motion for relief from confinement and proposed alternative remedy."

Filings related to the latest case activity, outside of a clerk entry about Thursday's hearing and the latest order, were sealed.

Sarah Tofflemire, the woman's court-appointed attorney, told The News Tribune on Friday in response to questions, "We are working to identify an effective alternative to incarceration that will appropriately safeguard public health and allow for the continued supervised treatment of the respondent."

Under the latest order, issued by Judge Philip Sorensen, the woman was ordered to "remain quarantined in detention at the Pierce County Jail ... for a period not to exceed 45 days beginning on June 15, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. through July 30, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. to undergo testing and treatment for active Tuberculosis and to continue such treatment until medical tests conclusively establish that she no longer presents a threat to public health, safety, and welfare, whereupon Respondent shall immediately be released from detention."

Before Thursday's action, under a May 19 court order, the woman was to be detained from a period spanning May 22-July 6.

Thursday's order also states that "any facility detaining V.N. shall allow, facilitate, and cooperate with any meetings, evaluations, and communications between V.N and her counsel and V.N. and the Court Visitor."

A previously scheduled review hearing is in place for Friday, June 23, which could potentially change the terms of confinement.

The woman, known in court records as V.N., was arrested by Pierce County Sheriff's Department deputies June 1. The arrest was the result of a civil bench warrant issued by the court over noncompliance involving a string of orders seeking isolation and treatment dating back to January 2022.

TPCHD's more than year-long pursuit of compliance hit a new level of urgency in April after a report from monitoring law enforcement filed with the court noted the woman was seen riding a city bus and arriving at a local casino.

The clerk entry noted that Thursday's roughly half-hour hearing saw attorneys for the health department and V.N. present, along with V.N.'s court appointed visitor. V.N. appeared via Zoom as did Pierce County Corrections Chief Patti Jackson and an interpreter for V.N.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department shared a statement with The News Tribune in response to questions Friday.

"We continue to work through this process with the court, jail staff and the patient," the health department said.

No further details were made available.