Judge hears arguments over sanctions in Oso landslide case

SEATTLE -- A King County judge is hearing arguments Wednesday over whether the state should face sanctions because its experts deleted emails related to a lawsuit over liability for the devastating 2014 Oso landslide.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson acknowledges that one of his attorneys knew the experts had agreed to delete the emails. But his office has denied allegations by lawyers for the slide victims that the actions constituted a fraud on the court.

The victims' attorneys argue that the state's alteration of land increased the danger to residents of Steelhead Haven, the neighborhood that was wiped out by the March 22, 2014, slide, which killed 43 people. They want Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff to find the state liable for landslide damages as a punishment for allowing the email deletion.

The state says it has recovered as many of the emails as it can, and that it has offered to pay for follow-up depositions for its experts. The state says that's punishment enough.