Articles on lawsuits

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Postby Marina » Tue Jul 08, 2008 6:52 pm

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Judge Calls Lawyers Greedy but Panel Approves Fees
11th Circuit judges issue three separate opinions on reward for foster care case

Alyson M. Palmer
Fulton County Daily Report
July 8, 2008

A federal appeals court has upheld more than $10.5 million in fees for lawyers who successfully challenged Georgia's foster care system -- but not before the judge who wrote the main opinion suggested that the lawyers were being greedy.



The fee dispute is the lingering issue in a long-running case filed against the state Department of Human Resources in June 2002. The suit on behalf of a class of all foster children in Fulton and DeKalb counties alleged systematic deficiencies in the counties' foster care systems.



Lowry on Monday said it's important that the lawyers receive a reasonable fee because there are certain costs they'll never be able to recover. "It is important to have these cases when there are real civil rights at issue to be adequately funded," said Lowry, who is executive director and founder of Children's Rights.

She said defendants frequently argue that fee awards take away from monies that might be spent to help the plaintiffs. But she said it was the unconstitutional nature of the foster care system that led the lawsuit to be filed, saying the state spent a great deal of its own money defending "what turned out to be an indefensible system."



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Postby Marina » Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:05 pm

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Tacoma settles foster father abuse lawsuit for $7.6 million

JASON HAGEY; [email protected]
Published: July 9th, 2008 01:00 AM |
Updated: July 9th, 2008 06:07 AM

Tacoma City Council members approved a $7.6 million payout Tuesday to settle a lawsuit stemming from the sexual abuse of eight children under the care of a Key Peninsula foster father.
The original lawsuit was brought in Pierce County Superior Court in 2005 by a legal guardian for the eight children. It named the state Department of Social and Health Services, which was accused of failing to adequately screen the licensing of Ronald Young as a foster father, and failing to adequately monitor children in his custody.

The cities of Tacoma and Seattle were added as defendants in December 2006 for their roles in failing to quickly act on reports of possible sexual abuse that they received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In September 2003, investigators for the center located sexually explicit photos on the Internet and notified law enforcement that the photos were uploaded by someone with a computer in the Tacoma area using the names “fosterdad” and “homeanon.”

The center passed the information to the Seattle Police Department because the department routes information to appropriate law enforcement agencies in this area, Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson said. Someone at the Seattle department in turn forwarded it to a desk in Tacoma that was staffed at the time by officers from the Tacoma Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Anderson said.

A Tacoma officer was working at the time the information came in, but “the individual failed to recognize the serious nature” of it, and it was not immediately investigated, Anderson said.

More than five months later, in early March 2004, Tacoma started a criminal investigation. Young was arrested March 25, 2004.

In November 2004, he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree child rape, four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of second-degree child rape and one count of possessing child pornography.

A Pierce County Superior Court judge sentenced him in April 2005 to more than 26 years in prison.

The State of Washington and the cities of Tacoma and Seattle participated in joint mediation with the plaintiffs July 2. Collectively, the governments agreed to pay $10.5 million to settle the case, according to Tacoma officials.

Tacoma is paying the largest share because the city had the most exposure, City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said.

A judge must still approve the settlement, Pauli said.

If it’s approved, Tacoma will pay $3 million from its self-insurance fund, and the remaining $4.6 million will come from the city’s “excess” insurer, which provides coverage for payouts in excess of $3 million.

Tacoma made some improvements to its process for handling reports of sexual abuse, but a detailed investigation is continuing, Anderson said.

“The lesson we have to learn is that we always have to be vigilant about children, and this underscores it,” he said.

Young’s wife, Wendy Young, was added as a defendant at the same time as the cities of Tacoma and Seattle, court records show. A settlement concluded in February that her portion of liability would be $500,000, court records show.

Although attorneys for the plaintiff children said it did not appear that Wendy Young participated in the sexual abuse, and that most of it occurred when she was away from home, she was accused of negligence for failing to provide proper foster parenting.

The state licensed the Youngs as foster caregivers in July 2002. They cared for 11 children until Ronald Young’s arrest, and sheriff’s officials said Young abused at least eight of the boys.

At the time of his arrest, Young was staying home with the children while his wife worked as a baker in a grocery store.

The Young family attended the Church of Christ in Port Orchard, and the pastor told The News Tribune in 2004 that the boys “seemed like happy little boys” and that “it looked like the ideal situation.”

Six boys, ages 5 to 7, from three families, lived in the Young home at the time of Young’s arrest. All six children turned up in photos Young posted on the Internet, a sheriff’s spokesman said. Two previous foster sons also were victims, the spokesman said.

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Postby Marina » Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:08 pm


Mother seeks justice for adopted son after sexual abuse in foster care

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A mother is on a mission to get justice for her adopted son, after the boy was allegedly sodomized by a man who was supposed to protect him.

The 7-year-old boy has been in foster care since the age of 1. At the age of 3, he was placed by the Department of Children and Families in a Palm Beach County facility called Kids Sanctuary, which specializes in children with special needs.

This little boy has cerebral palsy, which affects his vision and hearing. Because of the delicate nature of this case, his mother's attorney asked the victim what happened, and his exact words were: "He stuck a knife up my butt, he put a knife in my face, and he made me touch his privates." The little boy continued by adding that the man took him to "his apartment and made him touch his privates."

The family has now taken the first step in filing a lawsuit against DCF and that facility. In papers filed in court, the allegations are this little boy was sodomized on a regular basis at the facility.

When the little boy turned 4, a woman became his guardian. The boy told her what happened. She immediately contacted police and DCF, who began investigating. However, at this point, no criminal charges have been filed. "You just need to do your job. Listen to the kids, listen to my son. He's telling the truth. Don't let this happen to another child," said the adopted mother.

The director of Kids Sanctuary released this statement: "We do know DCF is actively looking into this. They were out here within the last six months. We turned over all information to DCF investigators. It's hard for me to fathom that the allegations are true. Although I'm not saying the child is lying."

"It's about protecting kids, standing up for this particular victim, empowering him to seek justice, but the bigger message is protecting other kids, holding DCF accountable, so they do their job properly," said Family Attorney Jeffrey Herman.


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Postby Marina » Tue Jul 29, 2008 8:12 pm

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Court dismisses family's lawsuit against officials

Parents claimed the removal of their children during a child abuse probe violated their rights

By ERIC HANSON Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
July 28, 2008, 10:42PM

A federal appeals court agreed to dismiss a lawsuit claiming state and local officials violated a Fort Bend County family's constitutional rights when officials removed the children from their home during a child abuse investigation.

While the ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supports a lower court's finding against the Gary Gates family, the court said child welfare and police should involve state courts as early as possible in the investigative process.

"I am sorry they turned down our appeal. But I would say it is very good in how it advanced the law," Thomas Sanders, attorney for Gates, said Monday.

Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the agency's attorneys were still reviewing the 48-page ruling Monday and could not comment on the decision or future implications.

"I'm disappointed," Gates said Monday. "I never abused my kids. I didn't that night and my wife didn't."

A nuanced ruling
The New Orleans-based court ruled against Gates but did not necessarily endorse all the practices of the state and county officials.

The judges said law in this area was not clearly established and the government's interest in stopping child abuse and the doctrine of qualified government immunity tips the balance in favor of the government.

The court wrote that the ruling means that the state and law enforcement agencies must abide by constitutional rules, "and seek to involve the state courts, who act as neutral magistrates in these complicated matters, as early in the process as practicable."

The ruling stems from a February 2000 incident involving Gates' son Travis, who was 10 at the time.

Gates and his wife, Melissa, had two biological children and adopted 11 others.

Purloined fig bars
Travis had been adopted and had an eating disorder in which he would steal and gorge on food.

On Feb. 10, Gary and Melissa Gates learned Travis had taken fig bars from the kitchen and eaten them in the attic.

According to the court documents, in an attempt to make Travis understand the seriousness of his conduct, Gary Gates put the fig bar wrappers in a plastic bag and pinned it to Travis' shirt.

The child went to school with the bag and wrappers along with a note from Gates explaining his reasons for the punishment.

School officials notified state child welfare authorities about the incident and also listed several other allegations about punishments the boy had received for stealing food, including one in which he had been handcuffed to his bed for a day.

Child Protective Services launched an investigation and officials went to the Gateses' Richmond home, where they were joined by sheriff's deputies.

A housekeeper who spoke only Spanish answered the door and let the officials enter the home.

Children were returned
The children told investigators they would be disciplined in various ways for stealing food, such as being forced to skip a meal or being spanked.

The CPS officials decided to remove all the children from the home.

On Feb. 14, a judge ordered the children returned to the home.

Gates and his wife filed a lawsuit against the state and the county alleging among other things that the state conducted an unlawful search and seizure and used excessive force and abuse of the civil process.

The case was in court for 4 1/2 years until a federal district court in 2006 dismissed the claims against the state and Fort Bend County.

The appeals court received the case and looked at two issues, whether legal consent had been granted to enter the home and whether there was an emergency that justified entry into the home.

A matter of legal timing
The appeals court said there was no emergency.

But it also said the housekeeper told officials they could talk to the children, which might indicate to a reasonable officer that permission to enter had been given.

Although the appeals court ruled there was no evidence the children were in danger of immediate harm, the court also said the law on this issue was not clearly established in 2000.

"If the law was not clearly established at the time of the alleged constitutional violation, the individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity," the court said.


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Postby Marina » Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:20 pm

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9th Circuit Unexpectedly Splits Over Strip Search of Student

Dan Levine
The Recorder
July 15, 2008

It's not every day that Harry Pregerson and N. Randy Smith line up on the same side.

Pregerson, a Carter appointee on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and an unabashed liberal, and Smith, a George W. Bush pick, would be expected to hold widely divergent views on a controversial Fourth Amendment case. But the two found themselves in the majority on a 6-5 en banc opinion Friday, ruling that the strip search of a 13-year-old girl at school was unconstitutional.

The opinion, written by Judge Kim Wardlaw, breaks the court's traditional ideological divide, as Republican- and Democratic-appointed judges wound up on both sides of the chasm. Liberal Judges Wardlaw, Pregerson and Richard Paez, and the more moderate Raymond Fisher, would not have been able to eke out a one-vote majority without the votes of Smith and moderate conservative Milan Smith Jr.

In dissent, Judges Ronald Gould and Barry Silverman -- both Clinton appointees -- also found the search unconstitutional, but found that the school officials still deserve immunity because case law was too vague for administrators to have known better.

And in a much more voluminous protest, taking up more pages than the majority opinion itself, Judges Michael Daly Hawkins and Carlos Bea and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski found the search reasonable. Hawkins, a Clinton appointee who wrote the dissent, has a liberal reputation, and Kozinski, while conservative, has a Libertarian streak and often sides against the government on Fourth Amendment issues.

The peculiar breakdown probably came about because search-and-seizure issues in the context of schools and children involve very different sensibilities than among adults, said Carl Tobias, a professor at University of Richmond School of Law.

"It also may testify to the fact that despite all the criticism of the 9th Circuit, it really isn't as predictable as some might think," Tobias said.

Officials at Safford Middle School in Safford, Ariz., strip-searched 13-year-old Savana Redding because they got a tip from another student that Redding was handing out 400-mg doses of ibuprofen, which is a prescription dosage. The search yielded nothing, and Redding's mother filed a civil rights claim.

The district court tossed the suit, and a 9th Circuit panel led by Hawkins agreed. Judge Sidney Thomas wrote an impassioned dissent, and even though he didn't wind up on the en banc panel, his colleagues vindicated his opinion.

Nowhere does Supreme Court precedent "provide blanket approval of strip searches of 13-year-olds remotely rumored to have had Advil merely because of a generalized drug problem," Wardlaw wrote, adding that the lasting psychological harm to a child outweighs the school's interest in this case.

But Hawkins, reaffirming his panel opinion, stressed that school administrators are owed much more deference than the majority accords to them, and that they have a responsibility to act quickly in the face of a public safety problem. Alternatives suggested by Wardlaw, such as holding Redding in the principal's office for the afternoon, miss the point, he said.

"The students were not planning to rob the 3:10 train to Yuma; they were going to pop pills," Hawkins wrote. "This demonstrates a misunderstanding of the temporal nature of the threat."

Arizona-based lawyers for both Redding and the school district could not be reached for comment. Adam Wolf, an ACLU foundation attorney who worked on the case, praised the ruling and said he can understand why some conservative judges sided with Redding.

"Anybody who would place his or her child in the position of Savana would be terrified to think that their kid could be strip-searched just because one other classmate points the finger," Wolf said.

Asked why some Libertarian judges sided with the school, Wolf said, "I don't know."

The case is Redding v. Safford Unified School Dist. #1, 08 C.D.O.S. 8790.

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Postby Marina » Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:14 pm

Kristi Tedesco reports
Tucson father sues CPS

A Tucson father is suing Arizona's Child Protective Services for $5 million, saying the state knew his son was being abused and didn't do enough to prevent his death.
4-year old Fabian Silva's case was investigated by CPS just 3 months before he died.

According to Oscar Silva, Jr's attorney, Jorge Franco, Fabian was hospitalized with a brain injury and bruising all over his body last Halloween.

Fabian was in the care of his mother and her live-in boyfriend, Alex Romero, at the time.

They told doctors that Fabian had fallen on some stairs, but the doctors didn't believe that account so a CPS investigation was opened.

According to the wrongful death claim that investigation was not executed properly.

Among the allegations - CPS failed to interview everyone living in Fabian's home and ignored Fabian's older brother when he said they were being hit "almost every day."

Ultimately, Fabian was pronounced dead January 26, 2008 when his mother's boyfriend brought him to the hospital. Fabian was unresponsive.

The boyfriend, Alex Romero, has since been charged with his death.

To be balanced, Child Protective Services says many points in the wrongful death claim are untrue and that the public is being misinformed about this case.

Liz Barker tells News4, CPS is seriously considering taking the matter to court, so a judge will release Fabian Silva's records and both sides of the story can be told.

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Postby Marina » Sat Aug 23, 2008 6:09 pm ... b.html?npc

Lawsuit says 10-year-old boy raped in foster care

11:20 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. -- A 10-year-old boy with a history of fetal alcohol and drug syndrome, neglect, sexual abuse and mental illness was raped in March by another boy in a Salem foster home, a suit alleges.

The suit says state protective workers stipulated that the victim not be put in a foster home with other children, but he was placed with a family that had at least three other children.

The suit seeks $10.5 million and names as defendants an Oregon state agency, the nonprofit Catholic Community Services, and the foster parents, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.

The child is not identified, except by a pseudonym, in the suit.

The child's lawyer, James Shadduck of Salem, says authorities brought a criminal case in juvenile court against the 12-year-old attacker, also a foster child in state care because of abuse and neglect.

The suit said that, after the rape, the victim attempted to commit suicide.

"He had a lot of emotional issues before this because his mom was in prison for drug- and alcohol-related offenses and apparently there was sexual abuse early in his life," Shadduck said. "He wasn't exactly in the best of shape emotionally before this, and the events surrounding what happened have exacerbated it. He has a hard time communicating verbally."

The suit said state workers wanted him alone in a foster home because he was prone to lashing out, exposing himself and otherwise instigating instances in which he may create an environment that would invite sexual abuse and assault by other male children.

Shadduck said it appears the foster parents did not know about that requirement. "I think they still needed to maintain supervision and make sure the kid didn't get hurt and so forth," he said. "Those are different issues and responsibilities."

Officials at Catholic Community Services and the state attorney general's office declined to comment.

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Postby Marina » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:06 pm

County Agencies File For Immunity In Jorris Lawsuit - 8/14/2008

In response to a civil suit filed against Allen County Children Services and the Allen County Department of Job and Family Services, the agencies filed a motion today to be granted immunity.

Gilberto Ugalde, the father of Mia and Matthew Jorris, filed a civil suit against Children Services and Job and Famly Services in June for what he calls the mishandling of his daughter's case that ultimately led to her death.

The civil suit claims Children Services wrongfully allowed Mia and Matthew to continue to live with their mother Kristen Jorris after abuse had been documented.

Today, Allen County Children Services has filed a motion for immunity in the civil suit, saying the legislature has previously determined public children services agencies in Ohio should be immune from second-guessing. Further stating the people responsible for these acts are already in prison. Attempting to hold Children Services liable is not permitted under Ohio law.

The Allen County Department of Job and Family Services is requesting immunity because they had no involvement in the investigations or decisions pertaining to Mia or Matthew Jorris.

Children Services also filed a motion to put on hold discovery of evidence until the motion for immunity is ruled on.

Daniel Stiles, Kristen Jorris' live-in boyfriend, has been convicted of murder and attempted murder in Mia's death and for injuries her brother Matthew sustained, and is currently serving a 57 year prison sentence.

Kristen Jorris was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison for permitting child abuse and involuntary manslaughter.

The lawsuit does not specify the amount of money Ugalde is seeking, but does mention loss of earnings, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and mental and physical anguish.

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Postby Marina » Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:45 pm ... source=rss

Judge upholds damages for removal of Berkeley mother's children

By Chris Metinko
Oakland Tribune
Article Last Updated: 08/19/2008 06:11:31 AM PDT

A federal appeals court has affirmed a $170,000 award for damages to a Berkeley woman whose children were removed from her custody without a warrant.

Jennifer Franet sued the Alameda County Social Services Agency and social worker Karen Castro after her two children were taken away when Castro suspected Franet's ex-husband had molested the daughter in August 2001.

The accusations of molestation were based on a report from the daughter's preschool teacher, who said Franet had told her of medical problems the girl came home with after visiting her father.

The agency placed the children into foster care and ordered a sexual assault examination, which proved inconclusive.

Franet reportedly underwent a nervous breakdown due to stress afterward, and in October 2001 a judge ordered her children returned to her.

In 2005, a federal jury awarded Franet $220,000 in compensatory damages and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of that ruling Thursday, awarding $170,000 to Franet.

The court overturned $50,000 in compensation that had been awarded in 2005 for ordering the sexual assault exam without Franet's permission.

In the ruling, the court said the jury had sufficient evidence to conclude Castro had acted unreasonably in removing the children without a warrant, which she had enough time to seek.

The court also noted there was no evidence of abuse to the son.

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Postby Marina » Sat Aug 30, 2008 6:40 pm ... le/3284868

Sun August 17, 2008
Settlement reached in Tulsa scalding lawsuit

The Associated Press
TULSA (AP) - A lawsuit that accused a state agency of negligence in the way it monitored the care of a 2-year-old Tulsa boy who was later scalded to death has been settled.

A federal judge late Friday approved a 160,000-dollar settlement in the lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services over the scalding death of 2-year-old Keenan Taylor.

The child died on June 9th, 2005, a day after being burned by hot water over more than 50 percent of his body.

His father, Carlis Anthony Ball, is in prison awaiting resentencing after being convicted of murdering and neglecting the boy. Ball has claimed the boy was burned accidentally.

The lawsuit alleged DHS was negligent for failing to remove the boy from his father's care despite previous reports of suspected abuse.

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Postby Marina » Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:34 pm ... ainst.html

State settles DYFS lawsuit in death of 2 in agency's care
by Susan K. Livio/The Star-Ledger
Wednesday September 03, 2008, 3:55 PM

The state paid $750,000 to settle a lawsuit accusing the Division of Youth and Family Services of failing to help two children under its supervision who were later killed by their father, an Attorney General spokesman confirmed today.

DYFS admitted no wrongdoing when it settled the case in April, but Amanda Bennett, 20, the only surviving sibling and her grandparents, who filed the negligence lawsuit, "certainly perceive it as a recognition by the state that DYFS didn't do its job,'' the family's attorney Gregg Shivers of Cherry Hill said.


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Postby Marina » Sat Sep 20, 2008 1:53 pm ... 8/80908042

San Carlos rape victim files civil suit against foster parents, child welfare agencies
By Janine Zeitlin • [email protected] • September 8, 2008

A young woman, who was a victim of sexual abuse by her former San Carlos Park foster father as a child is filing a civil suit against him, his wife, and the child welfare agencies that she alleges failed to protect her.

The woman stayed in the home of the foster parents, Robert and Janie Jackson
from May 2003 to January 2006 after her father brought her and her sister
illegally from Guatemala when she was 11 years old, the suit states. The
woman reached 18 years old in October 2007, the suit states.

Jackson, in his late 50s, pleaded guilty in June to charges that he raped
the girl three years ago and is awaiting sentencing, the News-Press reported
at the time.

The suit in Lee County Circuit courts spells out 13 counts that make allegations of battery by Robert Jackson, negligence and infliction of emotional distress by Janie Jackson and negligence by the Children's Network of Southwest Florida among other allegations. Each count exceeds $15,000 in damages for a total exceeding $195,000.

The Children's Network of Southwest Florida, contracts with the state to provide care to foster children. The suit also names Lutheran Services and Camelot Community Care.

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Postby Marina » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:45 pm

Suit filed against wife of man facing sex charges

Associated Press - September 26, 2008 12:15 AM ET

AUSTIN (AP) - The wife of an Austin man indicted on charges of sexually assaulting as many as six children is being sued by parents who claim the woman failed to properly monitor their child.

The Austin American-Statesman reports Austin businessman Billy Dan Carroll was indicted by a Travis County grand jury in July on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, indecency with a child by contact and indecency with a child by exposure.

He was indicted after police said a videotape taken from his home showed him having sex with children as young as 2.

A lawsuit filed against his wife, Kathy Carroll, claims she failed to properly monitor or supervise the parents' daughter while she was at their home.

Kathy Carroll's attorney, Robby Alden, said there is no legal basis in the claim against his client.

Billy Dan Carroll's attorney, Bill Hines, did not return calls from the paper seeking comment.

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Postby Marina » Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:11 pm ... -2008.html

Sunday, October 26, 2008 12:07 am
October 15

Luzerne County C&Y sues foster-care agency, alleging it breached contract
Dispute stems from sex-abuse incident involving 7-year-old foster child placed by the agency.


WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County Children and Youth Services has filed a lawsuit against one of its foster-care agencies, alleging the firm breached its contract when it settled a lawsuit filed by a couple who claim their child was sexually abused by a foster child they had taken in.

The suit, filed in Sept. 29 Luzerne County Court, claims the Institute for Human Resources in Kingston failed to defend CYS against the federal lawsuit filed by a New Jersey couple identified as K. and G. Doe. It also alleges the agency violated its contract with CYS when it “secretly” entered into a settlement with the couple.

The controversy stems from a lawsuit the Does filed in 2004 alleging CYS, the Institute and several other defendants were negligent for placing a 7-year-old boy, whom they allege was known to be a sexual predator, in the Does’ home. The boy was later accused of raping the Does’ biological son.

In June the Institute reached a settlement with the Does regarding the claims filed against it. CYS and Donald and Mary Pranzoni, foster parents who previously cared for the alleged molester, remain as defendants. The Institute also remains as a defendant based on a cross claim filed against it by CYS.

In its suit filed in county court, CYS claims the Institute breached its provider agreement with CYS by failing to notify the agency it was in settlement negotiations with the Does. The suit further claims the Institute’s contract with CYS requires it to defend CYS against the suit filed by the Does.

Barry Dyller, attorney for the Does, on Friday filed a motion in federal court that seeks to block the CYS suit.

Dyller argues CYS filed its suit solely in an attempt to circumvent the pending federal suit. He is asking a federal judge to intervene and issue an injunction that would preclude CYS from moving forward with the county court case.

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Postby Marina » Sat Nov 08, 2008 7:14 pm ... t&psp=news

Lawsuit: Foster Home Starved Boy, 10, To Death

POSTED: 11:12 am EST November 3, 2008
UPDATED: 8:41 pm EST November 3, 2008

DETROIT -- A Detroit mother is filing a $30 million lawsuit against a foster care home after the home allegedly starved her 10-year-old wheelchair-bound quadriplegic son to death.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner said Johnny Dragomir, who was born with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia, died on March 9, 2007 of a caloric protein malnutrition and had no food or liquid in his stomach at the time of his death.

"The facts in this case are crystal clear -- Johnny starved to death," said Arnold E. Reed, the lawyer hired by the boy's family.

Dragomir's mother, Elena Andron, was unable to care for her son after she lost her job two years ago and turned to the state for help. Andron never gave up her parental rights, but the state made Dragomir a temporary ward of the state and placed him in the custody of the Monroe Foster Care in Detroit.

Andron said after eight months at the foster care center, her son, who weighed 80 pounds when he went to the home, had lost more than 40 pounds and his body mass index was dangerously low at 13.

On March 9, 2007, the child was found dead on the floor beside his bed.

"I am hurt and angry. I want some justice," said an emotional Andron.

Reed said according to the foster home's food chart for the child, there were nearly 500 blank entries from Jan. 26, 2006, to Mar. 9, 2007. Reed said the child was not fed at least that many times.

"My calculations say that for 180 days they didn't feed him," said Reed.

The boy's mother said she complained several times about the starvation but that nothing was done.

"All they (Monroe Foster Care Center) were interested in was getting a monthly check," said Reed. "It is a sad day in this world when money takes precedence over life."

Reed filed the $30 million lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court Monday against the foster care home and at least eight other people, including a registered nurse and a dietitian who worked with the child.

"This was an innocent kid who did not deserve to die in this matter," said Reed.

No criminal charges were ever filed against the foster care home.

Local 4 contacted the foster care home in Detroit and the owner's son said he was not aware of a lawsuit.

The man's mother, Regina Henderson, ran the foster care home, which is no longer open. Local 4 is waiting for Henderson to comment on the lawsuit.

Reed said when he interviewed the people at the foster care home they backtracked and tried to cover their tracks.

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Postby Marina » Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:41 pm ... p?ID=17479

Summer Phelps' mother sues CPS
Karen Dorn Steele
Staff writer
October 29, 2008

On the eve of a high-profile trial involving the torture death of 4-year-old Summer Phelps, the child’s biological mother has sued state officials for failing to protect her daughter.

The lawsuit may later name Jonathan Lytle, Summer’s 30-year-old father, whose trial on charges of homicide by abuse starts Monday in Spokane County Superior Court. Adriana Lytle, Summer’s 24-year-old stepmother, has pleaded guilty to homicide by abuse and will be sentenced after her husband’s trial.

The child died at a Spokane hospital in March 2007 from injuries that attending doctors described as “vicious child abuse.” She had been burned, bitten and beaten and drowned in a bathtub where she had been forced for hours to wash urine-soaked clothing, according to court documents.

Elizabeth Phelps, Summer’s mother, and Spokane attorney Genevieve Mann, appointed as the personal representative of Summer Phelps’ estate, are the plaintiffs in the complaint filed Tuesday. It seeks unspecified damages to be determined at trial.

The defendants include Washington state’s Division of Child and Family Services, including Child Protective Services and the First Steps program.

The lawsuit was filed by the Seattle law firm Ressler & Tesh. Allen Ressler and Timothy R. Tesh are also representing the estates of several Eastern Washington children who died in state foster care, including 7-year-old Tyler DeLeon and Robley “Bobby” Carr Jr., 15.

“Summer was not in foster care,” Tesh said. “She was with her biological father. But in her case, we are alleging the failure of other state oversights.”

CPS received at least seven complaints of abuse involving Summer Phelps from 2002 to 2006, which the agency marked “information only” and didn’t investigate, according to the lawsuit.

In addition, the First Steps program was assigned to oversee the care of the infant son of Jonathan and Adriana Lytle in Spokane.

But when First Steps social workers asked CPS about Summer, who was also living in the Lytles’ apartment in September 2006, they were told “there was no CPS referral history” on the child, the complaint says. Six months later, Summer was dead.

Thomas Shapley, communications director for the Department of Social and Health Services, said he hadn’t seen the Phelps lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it.

The state Children’s Administration hasn’t completed its mandatory child fatality review on Summer’s death because it could have “tainted” Lytle’s trial, Shapley said.

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Postby Marina » Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:21 pm ... 1002/RSS01

Young woman suing Collier ex-foster father arrested on sexual abuse charges

By JANINE ZEITLIN • [email protected] • November 18, 2008

An 18-year-old is suing her former foster father, who allegedly sexually abused her while living in his Collier County guesthouse for more than two years, records show.

Jeff Woodring, 39, was arrested on sexual abuse charges in Collier County in May 2006.

The civil lawsuit filed Friday in Collier courts alleges that the girl suffered “physical trauma, invasion of her person, has suffered and continues to suffer mental and emotional anguish, insecurity, self-revulsion, damage to her self-esteem and self-worth, shame and humiliation (resulting in attempts at suicide) and medical bills.”

It also alleges that Woodring provided and consumed alcohol and marijuana with the child. The young woman is also suing the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, the agency that contracts with the Department of Children and Families to care for foster children.

Aimee McLaughlin, a network spokeswoman, said the organization couldn’t comment on litigation. She said Woodring fostered a total of five children from 2003 through May 2006.

Richard Filson, a Sarasota lawyer who is representing the young woman, said Woodring never should have been licensed as a foster father.

Filson said his client was a victim of sexual abuse before entering the child welfare system. He declined to discuss details of the past abuse.

The agencies handling the girl’s case were negligent in placing the girl alone with a man, the lawyer said.

“Putting that aside, he lived on his own and took in a sexually abused teenager,” he said. “I don't think there was a lot of thought to putting a victim of sexual abuse alone with a man who had disqualifying offenses.”

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Postby Marina » Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:02 pm ... suing-dcf/

Father Follows Son In Suing DCF


Hernando Today

Published: November 26, 2008

BROOKSVILLE - John Joseph Edwards is using a 2007 appeals court decision as the basis for a lawsuit that claims the Department of Children and Families violated his civil rights.

If the name sounds familiar, here's why: His son, John Edwards Jr., is also suing DCF, its private arm, Kids Central Inc., and the same caseworker, Cathy Kelly, as his father.

Edwards Jr.'s claim stems from the years he and his half-sister were allegedly abused and starved by their foster parents, Arthur and Lori Allain. The Allains are one year into a quarter-century prison sentence for aggravated child abuse.

Edwards Jr. wants a nine-figure sum in compensation from the state for allegedly allowing the abuse - which his lawyer likens to a Nazi concentration camp - to go unchecked.

A message left for both the Edwards' attorney in Sebring, Gary Gossett, was not returned Tuesday.

The father's case, filed Nov. 14, is related, but has completely different grounds.

The source of contention stems from 2002, when Edwards' parental rights to his son were terminated. Several years later, Edwards read in the newspaper that his son had been allegedly abused by his foster parents.

"Concerned for the welfare" of his child, Edwards filed a court motion claiming that his son was "wrongfully restrained" by DCF, according to an appeal.

He challenged DCF in child custody court, claiming that the agency did not do a thorough job trying to locate him before terminating his rights. DCF argued that they publicized a notification through the newspaper, along with searching driver's license records and the phone book.

The DCF employee assigned to the case added that Edwards is a common name and that any further search would be "a waste of my time," according to court records.

Judge Richard Tombrink disagreed, calling DCF's attempt "woefully lacking" in his written opinion. He adds: "Due process of law should never be disregarded in favor of expediency."

He continued: "Throwing up one's hand due to a common name and a lack of detail when the outcome involves the termination of parental rights ... strains the conscience."

The appeals court concluded that parental rights are protected under the Constitution and should not be terminated in a "perfunctory fashion." However, because its review is based on whether there was "abuse of discretion," they found no error with DCF.

DCF Spokeswoman Elizabeth Arenas said in an e-mail Tuesday that the department "does recognize that this was a terrible situation." She added that DCF has learned from the case and that measures have been taken to ensure it does not happen again.

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Postby Marina » Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:56 pm ... d.html?npc

Suit against ex-social worker caught on film groping Moreno Valley woman settled

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

A Moreno Valley woman has settled a lawsuit against a former social worker and a private foster care agency after she videotaped the worker groping her.

The woman accused David Salomon of abusing his authority while he was working for the Colton-based A Coming of Age Foster Family Agency.

Salomon was assigned to oversee supervised visits between the woman and her three children, who were in foster care, according to court documents.

Salomon has pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace. A sexual battery charge against him was dropped, according to court records. He was terminated from his job as a social worker.

The woman filed the suit against Salomon in U.S. District Court in February.

The Press-Enterprise does not routinely identify people who may be victims of sex crimes.

The woman's attorney, Christian Wilbert, said the settlement was confidential. She had originally requested $250,000 for emotional trauma.

"This is hopefully going to help her get this episode behind her," Wilbert said.

In court records, the woman said she felt powerless to stop Salomon because he controlled her ability to see her children.

For several weeks, Salomon went to the woman's house after work hours or met her in her car, court documents say.

He would grope the woman, forcibly kiss her and hold onto her, court documents say. Upon leaving, he would remind her of how much his opinion mattered to the court.

The woman installed video cameras, and the recordings showed Salomon restraining her and attempting to kiss her.

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Postby Marina » Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:31 pm ... 33057.html

Published December 01, 2008 01:30 pm -

12:30 p.m.

Appeals court holds state immune in foster-child shooting

The federal court of appeals in St. Louis today remanded a lawsuit filed by the mother of 8-year-old Braxton Wooden Jr., who was fatally shot while in the care of foster parents in Alba in 2005, to a lower court with instructions that the Missouri Department of Social Services and two case social workers be removed as co-defendants in the case.

The boy was shot in the head by Mark and Treva Gordon’s 14-year-old biological son during a game of “cops and robbers” with a handgun taken from a bedroom closet of the home.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit decided that because there was no evidence that the social worker and her supervisor had any knowledge of the presence of unsecured firearms in the home, the case did not rise to a standard of “conscience-shocking conduct” required to be shown to override the qualified immunity from lawsuit under which state social workers and DSS operate.

The Gordons, also co-defendants in the lawsuit filed by the Wooden boy’s mother, Brandie McLean, settled with McLean and her attorneys in 2006 for $100,000.

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Postby Marina » Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:28 pm

Lawsuit over baby's death settled
By Kim Smith
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 12.05.2008

A Tucson couple whose 4-month-old son died while living in foster care have settled their lawsuit against the state's Child Protective Services for $250,000.

CPS workers removed Dwight Hill from his parents' custody in July 2005 after he was born with cocaine in his system.

The baby was placed with Guadalupe Yolanda Gomez on Nov. 5, 2005, and he died 11 days later.

Gomez was charged with child abuse, and jurors were told during her trial that Dwight died as a result of a skull fracture that caused bleeding in his brain and retinal hemorrhages.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Nicol Green argued during the trial that Gomez either caused the baby's injuries or didn't get help for him.

Defense attorney Steven West described Gomez, however, as a wonderful foster mother and said the baby died as a result of "undiagnosed, undetectable" medical issues.

Gomez's conviction was recently overturned. The state will not be able to try Gomez again because it would violate her double-jeopardy rights, Green said Thursday. The case is expected to be dismissed within days.

Dwight's parents, Rachel and Kalomo Harris, filed a lawsuit against CPS and the Arizona Children's Association, claiming the agencies didn't conduct a criminal-background check on Gomez's husband, Roberto, even though he acknowledged on certain forms that he had previously committed a violent crime, said William Nelson, the Harrises' attorney.

In addition, Nelson said he discovered CPS had agreed to place Dwight with an aunt, but that decision "fell through the cracks."
CPS agreed to settle the lawsuit for $250,000, Nelson said. The Arizona Children's Association, which contracts with CPS to conduct background checks on prospective foster parents, settled for an undisclosed sum.

Jeff Bergin, who represented CPS, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Rachel Harris realized she had a problem with drugs and didn't fight with CPS when it took custody of her son, Nelson said. In fact, Rachel and Kalomo Harris, whom she married after Dwight was born, did everything CPS told them to do to regain custody of their son, Nelson said.

The birth of a second son has been "bittersweet" for the couple, Nelson said.

During Gomez's trial, Green told jurors that doctors believe Dwight suffered "blunt-force trauma" to his head within three or four days of his death.

Gomez told police that on the night of Nov. 11, Dwight forcefully vomited once and had loose stools, Green said. The next morning, both she and his baby sitters noticed the baby's eyes were rolling back in his head, and he was hard to wake up. His sitters took him for a supervised visit with his biological parents, and they, too, noticed the boy was lethargic and not eating well.
The baby was no better the next day, a Sunday, Green said. Gomez told police the child still wasn't eating well and was sleeping too much.

Although workers at Casa de los Niños crisis nursery told Gomez on that Monday she should bring him to their clinic when she called with her concerns, she didn't, Green said. Gomez told them she set up a doctor's appointment for that Wednesday. On that day, Green said, Gomez went into the doctor's office, picked up a magazine and waited to be called. When the doctor examined Dwight, he was dead, Green said.

Gomez was a foster mother for three years before she got Dwight and had nothing but praise from those who monitored her, West said. When the baby died, she was also a foster mother to his older sister and two other toddlers, and she and her husband were raising a 10-year-old biological child with cerebral palsy.

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Postby Marina » Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:13 pm

Estate of 4-year-old Homicide by Abuse victim files lawsuit against Child Protective Services

Posted: Dec 11, 2008 02:59 PM EST

SPOKANE, Wash. - A civil lawsuit was filed in Spokane County by the law firm of Ressler & Tesh on behalf of the Estate of Summer Phelps and Elizabeth Phelps.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the Estate of Summer Phelps, the little girl tortured to death by Jonathan and Adriana Lytle, and for her mother, Elizabeth Phelps, for the extreme emotional distress she has suffered as a result of her daughter's death. Elizabeth Phelps, who arranged for Summer to temporarily stay with Jonathan and Adriana Lytle, planned to take her daughter back in the Spring of 2007.

The lawsuit alleges CPS's negligence in failing to investigate six different referrals regarding Summer, including accusations of sexual abuse. Further, when asked by a concerned organization that was working with the Lytle family if there had ever been CPS referrals regarding Summer Phelps, CPS's own employees denied they ever existed.

The lawsuit further alleges that CPS was negligent in not following Adriana Lytle more closely, especially with the knowledge that she was in need of psychological care and not following through with the recommended treatment.

Complaint ... plaint.pdf

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Postby Marina » Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:20 pm ... 87882.html

Dec 15, 2008 4:16 pm US/Eastern

Appeals Court Will Hear Child On Child Sex Case

ATLANTA (CBS4) ― Florida's Department of Children and Families has more legal trouble ahead, and this time it involves allegations of child-on-child sex abuse in a foster home.

An appeals court in Atlanta has ruled that an appeals court can proceed with the hearings in the case. The parents of children identified as H.A.L., J.H.L., and S.L.L. claimed employees of the Florida Department of Children and Families in Jacksonville violated the children's constitutional rights nine years ago by placing them in a home with a sexually aggressive child.

The employees, Ed Foltz, Deborah Jones and Virginia Jordan, said they should be immune from liability because they acted within their discretion as state employees, but a federal judge refused to dismiss the suit.

An 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld that decision Monday. It said the officials "exhibited deliberate indifference to the known risk."

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Postby Marina » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:20 pm ... taken.html

Mother Sues After Son Taken

Monday, 15 December 2008 21:24

A Lexington mother is suing the city of Lexington, two police officers, and a state social worker for 19-million dollars, saying they took her son away even though they were looking for two other children.
Secily Baxter says the group wanted to take two children from a home. They looked for those two children at two different homes. At the second home, they saw Baxter's son -- and decided conditions warranted taking him, even though they had no order to do so.

Baxter's attorney, Wayne Roberts, says the seizure of the child -- and the seizure of many other children by social workers -- is unconstitutional, because it represents an illegal search and seizure. He says the law requires a hearing before a child can be taken. He says if Baxter's house was unclean, it still doesn't qualify as an immediate threat that would justify taking the child.

The city and the state have not commented, because it is an ongoing case.

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Postby Marina » Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:38 pm ... cation=rss

DSHS settles case of boy's death; lawyer asks how state lost track

Robley Carr Jr., according to his lawyer, was a victim of the state Department of Social and Health Services' (DSHS) mistakes. He was a victim not once, but twice. In 2003, state and federal authorities paid $5 million to settle claims that Robley and three siblings were horribly abused in foster care. Now, the state has agreed to pay an additional $320,000 to settle a claim that it failed to protect Robley even after that. He died at age 15.

By Maureen O'Hagan

Seattle Times staff reporter

Robley Carr, 15 when he died in 2006, suffered abuse in foster care years earlier.
This is a story that's been told countless times on these pages. Sadly, it needs to be told again. It's about the death of a boy who spent most of his life in foster care.

Robley Carr Jr., according to his lawyer, was a victim of the state Department of Social and Health Services' (DSHS) mistakes. He was a victim not once, but twice. In 2003, state and federal authorities paid $5 million to settle claims that Robley and three siblings were horribly abused in foster care.

Now, the state has agreed to pay an additional $320,000 to settle a claim that it failed to protect Robley even after that. He died at age 15.

"How did they lose track of him again?" asks Tim Tesh, the Seattle lawyer who filed both legal claims. "It's a hard question to answer."

The state said only this:

"All I can tell you is that DSHS regrets the unfortunate death of this young man," said agency spokesman Steve Williams. "We believe the $320,000 award is a fair and just settlement."

One might say that Robley began life well short of the starting gate.

His parents were troubled. According to an official review of Robley's 2006 death, Child Protective Services (CPS) in Alaska investigated abuse and neglect complaints involving the family in the early 1990s. The children were removed from the home, but Robley's mother later fled with them to Washington state, after she "left a treatment program against medical advice," the review said.

It didn't take long for CPS here to get involved. Robley had some 15 or 20 placements by the time he was 9, according to the recent legal claim. His two sisters and one brother had similar experiences, bouncing from home to home.

Robley, whose parents are Native American, was recognized by the Nooksack and the Hoonah tribes. That put his case under jurisdiction of tribal authorities and DSHS — or, as his lawsuit alleged, neither.

The children were repeatedly beaten in one foster home on the Nooksack reservation, according to the lawsuit Tesh filed. Even when the state heard the children were being abused, it didn't investigate, the suit said. The youngest almost died from a ruptured bowel and suffered a broken shoulder, Tesh said in a 2003 interview. The foster mother's teenage son beat him, sometimes jumping on the younger child's stomach. Then he beat the child again when he vomited blood or cried. Another sibling, Tesh said, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Neither DSHS nor tribal authorities admitted wrongdoing, but they agreed in 2003 to settle for $5 million.

The money was placed in a trust for the children's future.

"Abandoned" by state

Robley was placed in 2001 with new foster parents, Steve Horton and his wife, Carole, in rural Stevens County. Initially Robley seemed to do well.

In March 2002, the Hortons were granted guardianship, something generally seen as positive in the child-welfare world because it gives the child a sense of permanence. The state still has responsibility to make sure the child is safe.

Tesh said the state did not fulfill that responsibility.

"He was, in effect, abandoned by the State and left in a remote cabin in the woods with Steve Horton, a ... distraught man with severe medical and behavioral problems and an addiction to dangerous controlled substances," the legal claim states.

In April 2002, Robley's counselor complained to CPS that Steve Horton was "spacey" and having financial difficulties. The state later learned he took up to 32 pain pills a day, including methadone, according to the claim. Officials also learned he left the pills unlocked.

Carole, who eventually left her husband, later told DSHS that Steve often was "drunk" on pills and passed out at the breakfast table.

In December 2003, someone called CPS to say Horton's foster children were treated like "slaves." She also said their electricity was going to be shut off because Horton had illegally tapped into his neighbors' power.

In October 2004, another complaint: Horton had no money for food or electricity. This would become a running theme.

"Robley was wearing women's jeans, his shoes did not fit and were very old and Mr. Horton was behind on paying for Robley's school lunches," a social worker found, according to the legal claim. At the time, Robley told the social worker he wanted to leave, to be with his siblings. The home itself was so isolated that Robley barely saw other people. Even Steve often wasn't home.

And yet Robley stayed.

In 2006, the school principal called CPS. Things were so bad the school bought him a pair of shoes. They regularly gave him school supplies.

Horton's financial struggles were well-documented. And yet, Robley's share of the $5 million settlement sat in the trust fund. Horton didn't ask to tap into it. Even if he had, it's unclear the appointed trustee would have signed checks to pay for food, Tesh said. Trusts normally pay for things like college; they're not designed to pay for basics.

Death in filthy home

The untouched money, Tesh said, makes it "all the more of a tragedy."

On December 8, 2006, Robley said yet again he did not want to live with Horton.

Two days later he was dead.

Robley passed away quietly, in his sleep, after taking Horton's methadone pills.

A friend later told detectives Robley was trying to get high. The pills were always right there, on the kitchen table or in Horton's drawer, the boy said.

When detectives arrived, they found a home with little furniture. Dog feces littered the floors.

Robley's room was a mess, too. The detectives noted he had six dresser drawers, but only two had something in them.

Horton was not charged criminally. "He was asleep at the wheel," Tesh said.

Where the money goes

The state settled this claim last week without going to court. Most of the negotiations focused on what would happen to the money.

Robley's parents, who never lost their parental rights, were legally entitled to it. His mother declined the money because she's on public benefits, and receiving a lump sum might disqualify her, Tesh said.

His father, Robley Carr Sr., said he never gave up trying to get his children back. He completed extensive drug and alcohol treatment and had been clean for some time, the legal claim states.

Most of the settlement money will go to him. However, it will be held in trust and used only for expenses related to his ongoing battle to get his children back.

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