WSP veterans lawsuit moves forward

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Matt Crotty had command of the courtroom and after an hour of arguments, the battle of trooper against trooper will come to a head this spring.

Crotty represents five Washington State Patrol troopers who are suing their own agency to change decades of what they say are violations of the law.

"What we're asking the state to do is simply follow the law," Crotty said in judge Maryann Moreno's court on Friday.

The fight is over veterans' preference points, a system where military vets are given bonus points on entrance or promotional exams. Ten points should be awarded for entry exams and five points are allowed for promotions.

Crotty's clients say WSP denied troopers the opportunity to get the points and would not provide them when asked. The troopers want back pay, reinstated seniority and a defined policy moving forward.

The Problem Solvers exposed the allegations and lapses, and WSP is still trying to figure out why the points weren't awarded and where mistakes happened.

The state wanted to toss the lawsuit, claiming it was filed improperly. Crotty said he has evidence that WSP knew full well about a law that he says has worked well since World War II.

"We plead repeatedly that the state patrol knew exactly what it was doing and knew that what it was doing violated the law," he said.

Judge Moreno agreed that the case was filed by the book and that the state must now defend itself from the allegations in open court.

"From here, we'll continue our investigation of the claims and go from there," said Assistant Attorney General Jason Brown.

WSP had no comment about Friday's ruling. The case is set to resume in April.