Washington patient who refuses TB treatment was spotted on public transportation despite court no-show

The woman at the center of an ongoing civil case in Washington state — who is infected with tuberculosis and has repeatedly refused both isolation and treatment — failed to appear in court again on May 19, according to Pierce County Superior Court documents. Judge Philip Sorensen again issued an order of contempt of court and for involuntary detention.

Although the judge issued a civil arrest warrant for the women, identified only as VN in court documents, she has yet to be detained. Law enforcement surveillance found that she may have recently been on public transportation on the way to a casino, according to The News Tribune.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department stated in a January press release that it sees around 20 cases of TB per year, but left untreated it can spread to others in the community posing a threat to public health. It can also result in death if left untreated.

The case has been ongoing since January 2022 and the woman could still be infected, some reports say, though her condition is not known or stated in court documents at this time. At this point, more than 20 court orders issued over VN's noncompliance and multiple contempt of court orders have also been filed. 

The next court date is scheduled for June 23. 

Editor's note: Becker's reached out to VN's attorney for comment, and the story will be updated if more information becomes available.

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