We were critical of the lawsuit when it was filed in 2008, concerned that the significant amounts of money and time dedicated to defending the lawsuit would be better used helping DHS clients. And it has been expensive — the agency's legal tab is in the $7 million range. The costs will grow if, as expected, the state must pay plaintiffs' fees (if that happens, taxpayers deserve to know the amount).
The lawsuit helped shine some light on an agency that has too often been slow to respond to criticism, and the Human Services Commission is now a more active and engaged group. So it may be that the lawsuit winds up being a net positive. Time will tell. The settlement, if approved, stanches the legal spending for now and, as Commissioner Wes Lane said, it “gives us some real opportunities to take a look at some things and make them better.” That's most important of all.