Page 3 of 6

Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:19 am
by Marina

Orange County Judge Orders Social Services to Pay Mom $1.6 Million in Attorney's Fees

On October 31, 2007 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) awarded Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick over $1.6 million in attorney's fees to help defray the cost of litigation against Orange County Social Services. The fee award arises from Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick's recent court victory against the Orange County Social Services and two of its social workers, Marcia Vreeken and Helen Dwojak, earlier this year.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) November 8, 2007 --

RE: Fogarty-Hardwick v. County of Orange, et al.
Superior Court of California, County of Orange
Case No. 01CC02379 (Trial before Hon. Ronald L. Bauer, Dept. CX103)

On October 31, 2007 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) awarded Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick over $1.6 million in attorney's fees to help defray the cost of litigation against Orange County Social Services. The fee award arises from Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick's recent court victory against the Orange County Social Services and two of its social workers, Marcia Vreeken and Helen Dwojak, earlier this year.

The case was brought by Deanna Fogarty against the County of Orange, Marcia Vreeken, Elaine Wilkins, and their supervisor Helen Dwojak to recover damages arising from these defendants' alleged falsification of evidence, perjury, and suppression of exculpatory evidence during a juvenile dependency action back in February of 2000. On March 23, 2007 after over six years of litigation and a seven week trial, an Orange County Jury found against Orange County, social worker Marcia Vreeken, and social worker supervisor Helen Dwojak and awarded monetary damages of $4.9 million. Elaine Wilkins was found not liable.

In addition to seeking damages, Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick also sought to enjoin the Orange County Social Services Agency from continuing its allegedly unlawful practice of making allegations of wrong doing against parents in dependency proceedings without supporting evidence. On May 14, 2007 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) issued an injunction against the Orange County Social Services Agency requiring the agency to obtain "reasonable and articulable evidence" prior to initiating dependency proceedings alleging abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child.

San Diego Lawyer Shawn A. McMillan, of the Law Offices of Shawn A. McMillan, was lead trial counsel in the case.


Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:21 am
by Marina

San Diego Attorney Awarded Top Honors for Groundbreaking Work in Civil Rights Case Against Orange County Social Services Agency

On November 2, 2007, the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association awarded a San Diego attorney top honors in electing him as the "Top Gun - Trial Attorney of The Year" in the area of civil rights. The award was based on the 4.9 million dollar jury verdict obtained by Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick, against Orange County, its Social Services Agency, and two of its social workers Marcia Vreeken and Helen Dwojak earlier this year in a lawsuit alleging violations of her Constitutional right to familial association. Top Gun - Trial Attorney of The Year

San Diego (PRWEB) November 7, 2007 -- On November 2, 2007, the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association awarded a San Diego attorney top honors in electing him as the "Top Gun - Trial Attorney of The Year" in the area of civil rights. The award was based on the 4.9 million dollar jury verdict obtained by Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick, against Orange County, its Social Services Agency, and two of its social workers Marcia Vreeken and Helen Dwojak earlier this year in a lawsuit alleging violations of her Constitutional right to familial association.

This case (Fogarty-Hardwick v. County of Orange, et al.; Superior Court of California, County of Orange; Case No. 01CC02379; Trial before Hon. Ronald L. Bauer, Dept. CX103) was brought by Deanna Fogarty against the County of Orange, Marcia Vreeken, Elaine Wilkins, and their supervisor Helen Dwojak to recover damages arising from Defendants alleged falsification of evidence, perjury, and suppression of exculpatory evidence during a juvenile dependency action back in February of 2000. On March 23, 2007 after over six years of litigation and a seven week trial, an Orange County Jury found against Orange County, social worker Marcia Vreeken, and social worker supervisor Helen Dwojak and awarded monetary damages of $4.9 million. A third social worker, Elaine Wilkins was found not liable.

In addition to seeking damages, Ms. Fogarty also sought to enjoin the Orange County Social Services Agency from continuing its allegedly unlawful practice of making allegations of wrong doing against parents in dependency proceedings without supporting evidence. On May 14, 2007 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) issued an injunction against the Orange County Social Services Agency requiring the agency to obtain "reasonable and articulable evidence" prior to initiating dependency proceedings alleging abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child.

In accepting the "Top Gun" award Shawn A. McMillan said: "Ms. Fogarty should not have had to step outside her community to find an attorney to represent her. Trial attorneys are a pretty elite group, and as officers of the court we have taken an oath, and it is our duty, to protect and defend the Constitution, and the rights arising therefrom. These cases are important cases and should be brought and tried. We've proven that they can be won, now its your job to carry the ball the rest of the way, to accept these types of cases, and force a change in the system."


Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:14 pm
by Marina

Couple given some restitution in case against child welfare caseworkers
By Kirsten Stewart
The Salt Lake Tribune

Article Last Updated: 11/20/2007 05:25:06 PM MST

Posted: 5:24 PM- A Layton couple awarded just $2 for the wrongful removal of their son by Utah child welfare caseworkers are entitled to recover some of their attorney's fees and costs, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ordered the state to pay Connie and James Roska $27,768, which he said, "is equal to the amount of fees and costs to which they are entitled minus the costs to which the [state is] entitled."
The order comes after the Roskas' lawyer, Steven Russell, requested the state cover his legal fees of $536,000. In response, state attorneys filed a motion seeking payment of $4,174 in witness and court fees.
Kimball partially granted the Roskas' motion, but said they had a responsibility to weigh the risks of going to trial versus settling.
"The fact that some judges viewed that there was no case should have been a warning sign that jurors could feel the same way," wrote Kimball.
The Roskas sued three caseworkers at Utah's Division of Child and Family Services after a federal appeals court ruled the caseworkers violated Utah law and could be held personally liable for taking custody of the Roskas' 12-year-old son in 1999 without a warrant or court order. A federal jury awarded the Roskas $1 for each parent.
The state offered to settle with the Roskas three times: Once for
$5,000, again for $100,000 and most recently for $200,000.
Connie Roska said Tuesday she wishes she could repay her attorney, but that money was never the object.
"We made a difference, we changed the laws and protected families and children," said Roska. "But I still haven't gotten my public apology."

[email protected]


Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:51 pm
by Marina
. ... S1.article

Pediatrician scrutinizes Fox tape


November 20, 2007

CHICAGO -- A few weeks after someone murdered 3-year-old Riley Fox, a social worker interviewed her brother.

The videotaped session didn't solve the mystery of who killed the girl. Tyler Fox, then 6, was sleeping in the same room as Riley the night she disappeared, but he told the interviewer that he didn't know what had happened to his sister.

The importance of the interview and Tyler Fox's behavior during the session were the subject of witness testimony Monday during the Fox family's civil rights lawsuit in federal court. The trial began Nov. 6 and probably will end sometime next month.

On June 6, 2004, Riley Fox disappeared from her Wilmington home. Her body was found later the same day in nearby Forked Creek. The child had been sexually assaulted and drowned.

Several months later, Kevin Fox, her father, confessed to police. On the night she disappeared, he'd accidentally hit her in the head with a bathroom door. Fearing she was dead, he bound her with duct tape, tried to make it look as if the child had been sexually assaulted and dumped her in the creek, police said. Fox was arrested, jailed and charged with murder in October 2004.

In June 2005, state prosecutors revealed that DNA evidence found on the child's body did not belong to Kevin Fox and the charges were dropped. Later that year, the family filed a lawsuit in Federal Court accusing several detectives, a county social worker and a polygraph examiner of framing Kevin Fox for the crime.

Pediatrician testifies

Marcus DeGraw, a Detroit-based pediatrician, was hired by the Fox family to testify during the case. While being questioned Monday by Kathleen Zellner, one of the family's lawyers, DeGraw said the 2004 interview with Tyler Fox did not include any crucial information about the murder. He also testified that Riley Fox suffered significant injuries during the sexual assault but couldn't identify their source.
While being cross-examined by Robert Smith, one of the lawyers representing the detectives and the other defendants, DeGraw testified that the boy's interview was important because he was a potential witness to the crime.

While answering several of Zellner's questions, DeGraw seemed to criticize Mary Jane Pluth, the social worker who interviewed Tyler Fox, noting that she switched gears and changed the subject several times during her session with the boy. During later testimony, Smith asked DeGraw if that interviewing technique is sometimes used with children. The doctor testified that it is.

And though Tyler Fox cried while being interviewed by Pluth, DeGraw testified that it wasn't particularly unusual behavior. In similar situations, children will cry for a variety of reasons, including the fact that some of them easily became emotional, he testified.

Although the trial will continue today, it will be the last day this week. Judge John W. Darrah scheduled a break for Thanksgiving beginning Wednesday. The trial then resume Monday.

Reporter Stewart Warren can be reached at (815) 729-6068 or [email protected]


Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:45 pm
by Marina
. ... /85236.htm

Tenn. Apartment Owner Files $2.5 Million Lawsuit against State

November 25, 2007

A $2.5 million lawsuit has been filed by the owner of a Nashville, Tenn., apartment complex against the state, its Department of Children's Services and a teenage arsonist who set a series of apartment fires last year.

The suit states that the state, Youth Villages Inc. – a nonprofit company that provides mental health services for children – and the group home Youth Villages oversees allowed a boy to flee state custody and set the fires.

The then-13-year-old set three fires at the Jamestown Apartment complex last November. One of those fires at the south Nashville complex left more than 15 families homeless.

The damage, including loss of rental income, was more than $1.2 million, according to the suit filed on Nov. 19 by First Management Co.

The company is seeking up to $2 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. A spokeswoman for Youth Villages said she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment, and a DCS spokesman said in an e-mail he could not comment on the lawsuit or whether the teen is still in state custody.

DCS has previously said the teen fled the group home by jumping from a second-story window.

The lawsuit alleges that the teenager has since pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated arson and reckless endangerment.

The suit states the teen was in state custody because of previous violations of the law and should not have been allowed to flee the Binkley Group Home.


Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:46 am
by Marina
. ... 120107.htm

December 01, 2007

Mom of child in foster care to sue state over sex abuse

Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- The mother of a toddler who was sexually molested by a Deltona foster parent has filed a notice to sue the state and the foster care agency that monitored the foster home.

Daytona Beach attorney Jon Benezette, who is representing the now 4-year-old child and 38-year-old mother, wrote in the notice that the child has become "severely, emotionally damaged" from the repeated sexual abuse by Robert R. Clinton last year.

Benezette said he's going to try to prove the state Department of Children & Families and Neighbor To Family in Daytona Beach, which trained, hired and oversaw Clinton and his wife, failed to monitor activities in the foster home. The attorney is also looking at whether the agencies failed to investigate Clinton's history and character before deciding he was a suitable foster parent.

According to a letter sent to the DCF in October, he is seeking $100,000 damages from that department, the maximum the law allows for a public agency. Benezette has also notified Neighbor To Family, a private nonprofit, he is seeking damages from that agency.

"It's a horrible case," Benezette said. "Likely the child in the future will need some level of psychological counseling to deal with this traumatic situation."

Gordon Johnson, CEO of Neighbor To Family, would not comment about the case but said the abuse was an "unfortunate situation."

DCF officials also would not comment.

Clinton was sentenced in September to life in prison for molesting the girl, for 10 counts of possession of pornography involving a child and 40 counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child.

Clinton took pictures of himself and the child, who was 2 1/2 at the time, performing sexual acts and posted them on the Internet, according to a claim notice filed by Benezette against the DCF on behalf of the girl's mother. The Daytona Beach News-Journal is not naming the mother to protect the identification of the daughter because she's a victim of sexual abuse.

Investigators found images on Clinton's computer and digital camera, according to police reports. The incidents took place between June 29 and July 14 last year in the home of Clinton and his then-wife, Betty, who police said was not involved. The couple have since divorced.

Clinton was arrested in February this year after the Internet portal Yahoo filed a complaint in November with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"I was highly upset and crying," the mother said when she found out about the abuse. "I couldn't imagine that could happen to my little girl. They should have watched out carefully for them in the foster parent home."

The Daytona Beach woman's daughter, son and another younger daughter were removed from her care last year, she said, after her daughter got into a hair chemical belonging to her friend and was taken to the hospital. The DCF could not confirm that, and records are not public.

She regained custody of her children in June, but they were removed again Nov. 13 and placed back into foster care, which she thinks is retaliation because of the intent to sue. The mother said the day care center the children attended notified the DCF stating she had not provided diapers or a change of clothes, which she disputes. Officials would not comment on the removal.

Betsy Lewis, local DCF spokeswoman, said she can't talk about the children being removed but that it would not have anything to do with retaliation.

"We don't have time for that," Lewis said.


Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:52 am
by Marina
. ... p?ID=12671

DeLeon estate files $95 million suit

By Shawn Vestal
Staff writer
December 7, 2007

Document: Complaint for damages ... amages.pdf

A lot of people were in a position to prevent the death of Tyler DeLeon, his advocates say.

The state agency that licensed Carole DeLeon as a foster parent, which failed to respond to numerous complaints about abuse and neglect of foster children in her care and helped her adopt the boy. Social workers. His primary care doctor. His psychiatrist.

All were named as plaintiffs Thursday in a lawsuit filed in Spokane County Superior Court. The suit seeks $95 million in damages from the state, and unspecified damages from Dr. David Fregeau, Tyler’s primary care doctor, and Sandra Bremner-Dexter, the boy’s psychiatrist.

The suit was filed on behalf of Tyler’s estate and seven other children who were placed in Carole DeLeon’s home. The plaintiffs have already filed claims against the state, a precursor to the lawsuit.

“She never should have had any of these kids placed with her in the first place,” said Tim Tesh, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. “She never should have had a foster-care license post-1988.”

A DSHS spokesman said the agency would not comment on pending litigation, and messages left for Fregeau and Bremner-Dexter were not returned.

Tyler DeLeon died on his seventh birthday, Jan. 13, 2005, of dehydration exacerbated by starvation. The lawsuit alleges that DSHS failed to properly investigate the background of Carole DeLeon and another caregiver in DeLeon’s home in Stevens County, or to respond to numerous complaints of abuse. The other children placed in her care suffered similar forms of abuse, the lawsuit alleges.

DeLeon lost her foster-care license in 1988 and had children removed from her care for abuse – but was granted another license eight years later.

Tesh said that some of the other children – one of whom is now an adult – are still struggling with health and behavioral problems.

“Some of them are doing well,” he said. “Some of them are having a very hard time.”

Tyler’s death prompted reviews and investigations, and the findings are part of the foundation for the complaint filed Thursday in Superior Court.

The lawsuit cites an extensive history of abuse complaints and health concerns regarding foster children at Carol DeLeon’s home, including bruising, broken bones, knocked-out teeth, the routine withholding of food and water, sexual abuse by a registered sex offender, bite marks and multiple scars.

During the time that the children named as plaintiffs lived with DeLeon, there were 23 complaints alleging abuse, neglect and licensing violations in the home.

“Many of the CPS referrals and many others not detailed herein were reported to CPS by the school district,” the complaint states. “CPS either investigated these referrals and determined them to be unfounded or ignored them in their entirety.”

The suit alleges that Fregeau and Bremner-Dexter – both of whom are required by law to report valid suspicions of abuse or neglect – were aware of injuries suffered by Tyler in the home, allegations of abuse, and the fact that Tyler’s height and weight fell into the bottom 5th percentile for his age during his time in Carole DeLeon’s care. The failure to report those problems amounts to malpractice, the suit says.

Fregeau, a pediatrician who’s worked in Spokane for more than 15 years, also played a role in DeLeon’s criminal case, assuring the medical examiner that there was no abuse in the case, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen told The Spokesman-Review in July. That assessment was a factor in Rasmussen’s decision to drop homicide-by-abuse charges against DeLeon and pursue lesser charges.

A CPS investigation of Fregeau’s role in the case concluded that he had seen many injuries suffered by Tyler and his foster brother, then known as Steven Miller, but that Carole DeLeon persuaded him and others that there was no abuse.

“Ms. DeLeon was able to mislead well-respected professionals and physicians in her community about the behaviors of children in her care,” that report stated.

Tesh said he doesn’t believe that explanation is sufficient to explain the failure of so many people to pick up on the warning signs.

“I don’t really buy the argument that, “Boy, she pulled the wool over all of our eyes,’ ” he said.

The lawsuit will likely take a long time to be sorted out. An initial step will be responses filed by each of the defendants, and the beginning of the discovery process, which Tesh said could take up to a year.

In addition to DSHS and the doctors, the suit names the Rockwood Clinic, where Fregeau worked, and three DSHS employees as defendants: Loretta Mee, Robert Tadlock and Dwayne Thurman.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or [email protected].


Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:05 am
by Marina
. ... xml&coll=7

Suit claims twins got improper care

Welfare - An attorney is seeking $12.8 million, saying the state didn't perform proper checks

Saturday, December 08, 2007AIMEE GREEN The Oregonian Staff

A $12.8 million lawsuit claims that state child-welfare workers placed newborn twins in a foster home where they were caged in cribs with chicken wire over the tops and left to sit in their own feces and urine.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges that the boy and girl didn't get crucial medical care. A drainage tube in the boy's head didn't function properly, dangerous pressure built up inside his skull and he sought relief by beating his head against the crib, according to the suit.

"He's going to have to have neurological care for the rest of his life," said David Paul, the attorney representing the twins, Kaylie and Leo Collins, now 5, on behalf of Lisa Collins, guardian ad litem. "He won't be able to work, and he won't be able to function at a normal level."

The twins, who were born in August 2002, lived in the medical foster home of Gail and Marvin Thompson from shortly after their birth to December 2005, Paul said.

The suit claims that the state Department of Human Services erred by failing to adequately check on the foster home and monitor that the children were receiving medical care.

The twins' former foster parents, the Thompsons, were baffled by the allegations.

"This is totally false," said Marvin Thompson. The twins were well cared for, he said.

Greg Parker, a DHS spokesman, said he couldn't comment because the agency hadn't received a copy of the lawsuit.

The twins' room was known as "the Dungeon" because the windows were blacked out and the children were deprived of water and food, the suit says.

"This is not an isolated incident," said Paul, who earlier this year won $960,000 from the state for a 3-month-old girl who suffered brain damage at the hands of her foster father.

The Thompsons, who live in Gresham, said police detectives investigated suspicions of neglect against them shortly after the twins left their care but dropped the case because it had no foundation. A check of Oregon records showed the Thompsons don't have a criminal history.

Marvin Thompson said he and his wife have been loving foster parents to hundreds of children over 30 years. They retired in 2005.

Michelle Cole of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report. Aimee Green:503-294-5119; [email protected]


Posted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:26 pm
by Marina
. ... S1.article

Foxes' lawsuit drops three

December 13, 2007
By BRIAN STANLEY sun-times news group

CHICAGO -- A detective, a county social worker and a polygraph examiner were dropped from Kevin Fox's lawsuit Wednesday morning.

"Ladies and gentlemen, David Dobrowski, Mary Jane Pluth and Richard Williams have all been dismissed as defendants in this case," Judge John W. Darrah announced immediately after the jury sat down.

Fox has filed the federal lawsuit, which accused Will County and several officials of framing him for the murder of his daughter. On June 6, 2004, 3-year-old Riley Fox disappeared from her Wilmington home. Her body was found that day in nearby Forked Creek.

Kevin Fox was later arrested following a lengthy interrogation during which he confessed, but was released from jail after DNA from the girl's body proved not to be his.

Will County and five individual detectives are the remaining defendants.

Pluth, a Will County child advocate, interviewed Tyler Fox about three weeks after his sister's death.

Similarly, Cook County Detective Richard Williams' involvement only lasted for a few hours. He was on call when sheriff's police asked his superiors to send a polygraph examiner to their office.

But Dobrowski interviewed Melissa Fox the night of her daughter's death and took part in Kevin Fox's interrogation.

Investigation supervisor

Sgt. Edward Hayes, a defendant in the case, took over as investigation supervisor the week before Fox's interrogation. He was previously an evidence supervisor.
Hayes testified he met with the detectives and decided Fox should be brought in for a formal interview. His only official interview had been conducted the day of his daughter's death, and Hayes felt Fox's "mind could've been elsewhere."

"I felt something needed to be done because when you look at the totality of this case, Kevin Fox had never been eliminated as a suspect based on what we knew at the time. Whether he did it or not," Hayes said.

Hayes said he participated in the interrogation after Fox asked to speak with a supervisor. "He says he may be responsible for putting Riley in the creek. He says he may be involved in the death of Riley but may have blacked out," he testified.

Hayes also testified he later spoke briefly with Melissa Fox as she was escorted from the room where Kevin Fox had taken his polygraph exam.

"I said, 'You need to understand something. We feel Kevin is involved in the death of your daughter,'" he said.

Kevin and Melissa Fox have alleged a detective forced her from the room after Hayes yelled for her to be removed; that Hayes yelled profanities and harassment in Melissa Fox's face; and that Hayes threatened Kevin Fox with sexual assault in jail unless he confessed.

Hayes denied those allegations.

"There'd be no reason to threaten sexual assault, especially when you're trying to elicit information from an individual and get details about the death of his daughter. You want to build a rapport," he said.

During cross-examination, Hayes admitted leading questions were used during Fox's interrogation.

The other witness to appear Wednesday was Kenneth Lanning, a retired FBI agent specializing in sex crimes against children.

The trial will continue today at 9 a.m. with Lanning's testimony.


Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:17 pm
by Marina

Foster Child's Mother Files Lawsuit In Son's Choking Death

Posted: Dec 19, 2007 10:02 AM EST

Updated: Dec 19, 2007 10:02 AM EST

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (AP) - The mother of a boy who was choked to death in a foster home filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Shelly Shelton filed suit Tuesday in Morristown, seeking $40 million.

Jordan Kaleb Shelton, 16, died Nov. 24.

Investigators said the boy was choked during an argument with his foster father, Kenneth Wayne Taylor. The man is charged with reckless homicide in the incident.

The lawsuit also names Taylor, his wife Lisa Taylor and foster care network Omni Visions as defendants.

Nashville-based Omni Visions is the largest provider of foster care for the state Children's Services Department.


Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:21 pm
by Marina
. ... Tenn_.html

Posted on Wed, Dec. 19, 2007

City sued over DHS boy's death in Tenn.

By John Sullivan

Inquirer Staff Writer

The family of a Philadelphia teenager who was killed when staff at a Tennessee treatment center put him into a restraint hold sued the city yesterday, saying the child-welfare agency sent him there despite warnings that the facility was dangerous.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Philadelphia, alleges that the city's Department of Human Services and a city-associated mental-health organization acted in "shocking disregard" for the safety of Omega Leach, 17, by not warning Family Court about the "manifestly unsafe and dangerous conditions" at the center.

Also named in the suit were the Chad Youth Enhancement Center, the juvenile mental-health center outside Nashville where the boy was fatally injured June 2, and Universal Health Services, the King of Prussia company that owns it.

The suit contends the company was negligent in its oversight of the two employees who put Leach into the hold after he swung at one of them.

Universal Health Services officials did not return a call seeking comment.

A DHS spokesman said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Leach's estate by his mother, Paulette Dolby of West Philadelphia. It notes that a Chad employee called the city in 2005 to warn that Chad workers were using "improper and illegal" force against youths.

While city social workers later stopped short of concluding that unlawful force was being used, they decided that "residents were being harshly and improperly restrained" at Chad. The facility promised to improve.

As The Inquirer has reported about Chad, the suit also notes that a report by city inspectors details how, before Leach's death, a staffer was fired for slamming a child to the ground so hard that the boy fouled himself.

A Family Court judge sent Leach to Chad for mental-health treatment in May after he was arrested for stealing a car.

A month after arriving, Leach argued with a staff member over whether he could stay in his room. The suit alleges that staff members Randall Rae Jr. and Milton Gerald Francis applied a harsh and improper restraint to Leach, and that the fatal injuries were intentional.

In October, a Tennessee medical examiner ruled Leach's death a homicide. Tennessee child-welfare officials also faulted the center for provoking the conflict that led to his death.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Contact staff writer John Sullivan at 215-854-2473 or [email protected].


Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:47 pm
by Marina

Attorney For Boy Starved By Father Files $22 Million Claim

POSTED: 11:49 am PST December 20, 2007

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An attorney for a 5-year-old boy starved by his father has filed a $22 million tort claim against the state.

It's the first step toward a civil lawsuit against the Department of Social and Health Services.

Seattle lawyer David Moody has been hired by guardians for young Shayne Abegg. A Snohomish County judge convicted Shayne's father and his girlfriend Wednesday of criminal mistreatment, for starving the boy until he weighed only 22 pounds.

A state review of the case has already found that social workers missed a pattern of abuse and neglect.


Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 6:18 pm
by Marina
. ... ?track=rss

State settles case of boy abused in foster care

By Lynn Anderson | Sun reporter
December 18, 2007

The Maryland Department of Human Resources has agreed to pay out $1.5 million to care for a Baltimore boy who suffered irreversible brain damage after he was abused by another child in the foster home where he was placed by the city Department of Social Services.

The boy, Brandon Williams, who is now 5 years old and still unable to speak or walk, will receive an annuity of $80,000 a year for life to pay for his medical care, according to attorneys. The state has also agreed to pay the family $580,000 and guarantee that the boy will receive Medicaid assistance even though the annuity would have rendered him financially ineligible.

"It is a remarkable indictment of the foster care system," said Joseph B. Espo, an attorney who represented the boy and his mother, Martina Ford, also of Baltimore. "Brandon was in the hospital for more than a year after he was injured."

Part of the money that the state will pay the family will be used to purchase a house with easy emergency-vehicle access and to buy a van to take Brandon, who uses a wheelchair, to his medical and therapy appointments, said Philip Lohrey, an assistant attorney general assigned to the Department of Human Resources. Lohrey said the settlement represented a good outcome for both sides.

"We believe that we were able to balance Brandon's needs without unduly burdening the state treasury and the taxpayer," he said.

Lawyers for Ford and her son initially sought $34 million in damages and other penalties from the state.

A spokesman for the DHR said the state agency wanted to make sure the boy was well cared for.

The $1.5 million figure includes the $580,000 cash payout as well as the insurance annuity, which was purchased by the state from an insurance company, said Espo. The annuity, which cost the state roughly $900,000 but guarantees the child an annual payment from the insurance company for the rest of his life, also includes a 4 percent annual increase to account for inflation.

Brandon's mother, who received a separate, undisclosed payout through an insurer for the Social Services Department, said the settlement has ended the "roller coaster ride" that has been her life since her son's injury.

Ford, 32, lost custody of her four children for a period starting in 2004 when she was hospitalized for sickle cell anemia. Brandon and his sister Naya were sent to live with a foster family in Randallstown.

The foster mother, Chloe Ann Jones, left Brandon and his sister in the care of her adopted teenage daughter, a former foster child, who abused the younger children, according to records reviewed by Espo. The teenager, whose name has not been released, was charged as a juvenile in the case. She is accused of tossing the boy into the air and failing to catch him as he fell. His head slammed into a set of concrete steps.

When Jones, the foster mother, returned home, the teenager told her that the boy was sleeping, according to court documents. Jones did not check on the toddler until another child told her he would not wake up.

Jones took Brandon to Northwest Hospital Center, where doctors examined him and discovered multiple fractures to his skull.

They also found an earlier fracture of his right wrist that had not been treated, according to court documents.

A social services caseworker who went to the hospital to check on Brandon told Ford that he had fallen and that it was "just an accident," court records state.

Because of the severity of his injuries, Brandon was moved to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he stayed for about two months. It was Hopkins officials who suspected child abuse.

"I'm happy that it is finally over," said Ford. "I am glad that Brandon is going to get everything that he deserves and that he needs for the rest of his life."

[email protected]


Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:04 am
by Marina
. ... 54524.html

Published: February 14, 2008 01:53 pm

Failing children? Lawsuit targets DHS


A Rogers County foster child is among nine children suing state officials, including Gov. Brad Henry and members of the Department of Human Services, for alleged abuse, neglect and improper care while in state custody.

Claiming a drastic shortage of foster homes, overcrowded and dangerous emergency shelters, unsafe and inappropriate foster homes, excessive caseworker caseloads with inexperienced and unstable staff, and grossly inadequate payment for the care of foster children, the class action lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday, states Oklahoma’s foster care system has harmed foster children and exposed them to harm.

The children’s ages range from infants to 16 years old, and allege abuse, neglect and inadequate care while in DHS custody.

Among those is a 4-year-old girl from Rogers County who has been in state custody since she was 2. Included in the lawsuit are claims that the girl was not properly monitored or supervised by DHS.

Since coming into state custody in 2006, the young girl has been in six different foster homes, including the home of a relative for seven months. That relative had been previously accused of child abuse.

The lawsuit's claims concerning eight other foster children are similar regarding poor supervision. But some are far more extensive regarding abuse and neglect, the suit claims.

Skull fractures, physical and sexual abuse are listed. In 1997, a report was issued by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Human Services Committee based on an “in-depth study of the foster care system in which every foster care home in the state was visited.” The report, titled “Interim Study of the Foster Care System Throughout Oklahoma,” described several emerging problems with DHS that were causing harm to children. A shortage of foster homes and a lack of support for foster parents were identified among problems.

A restructuring of DHS to create a direct link among DHS, policy makers and field personnel was recommended to “adequately service the foster care program." In addition, the report recommended DHS hire more caseworkers. The lawsuit claims that “in the 10 years since that report, DHS has failed to correct any of the deficiencies identified in the report.”

Krystal J. Carman writes for Claremore (Okla.) Progress.


Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:29 am
by Marina
. ... cleID=1966

County sued by former residents

Date: 2/15/2008 10:03:00 AM
By: Jody Sliger
Staff Writer
[email protected]

A Cookeville couple, Steven C. and Pamela Alexander, has filed a lawsuit against the county, the hospital, the sheriff’s office, one county employee and one employee of the Tennessee Department of Children Services, asking for $250,000 in compensatory damages, legal fees, expenses, plus punitive damages up to “the maximum extent permitted by the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have accused White County, Tennessee, White County Community Hospital, White County Sheriff Department, Sgt. David Ward, of White County Sheriff Department (individually and in his official capacity) and Rick Williams, Department of Children Services, (individually and in his official capacity) of various offenses.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages “not to exceed $250,000” for violation of civil rights, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, invasion of privacy, trespass, emotional distress, and loss of consortium” plus “legal fees and expenses and other damages” permitted by law. The Alexander’s are also asking for punitive damages in the lawsuit with no amount specified, although it does state they be awarded “damages to the maximum extent permitted by the Tennessee Government Tort Liability Act.

The suit alleges the couple’s marriage “suffered severe damage” because of “unfounded criminal allegations.”

Records from the White County Justice Center confirm that on Jan. 28, 2007, Steven Craig Alexander, 40, was arrested and booked into the White County jail and charged with child abuse/neglect, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. The bond was set at $10,000. He then appeared in White County General Sessions Court on Feb. 2, 2007, where his case was continued to March 2, and again continued to March 23, and then sent to the May 21, 2007, session of White County Criminal Court.

According to the report filed by Sgt. Ward, at approximately 5:45 p.m., on Jan. 27, 2007, he “was dispatched to the White County emergency room to a domestic situation.”

As required by law, because of a child being involved in the situation, the Department of Children Services was contacted.

In the course of Ward’s investigation, details of the events leading up to the trip to the emergency room were described to Ward, employees at the hospital and a detective at the emergency room. And then, Pamela, the child, Ward and a second detective went to the Justice Center.

“She told the story to the judicial commissioner,” said Ward. “And while she was doing that, DCS and one of the detectives were talking to the boy. When I got the call to go to the emergency room, I contacted a detective to meet me over there to clarify I was doing the right thing.”

Sheriff Oddie Shoupe explained the stages the department must follow in domestic situations are clearly defined by law.

“Once we get a call about domestic violence and there are kids involved, it is mandated by law, we have to involve DCS,” said Shoupe. “There are certain guidelines that must be followed. We don’t interview the children. They interview the children. We did not take the photos, and DCS took photos, as mandated by law.”

Shoupe continued saying the wife [Pamela] is the one who talked to the judicial commissioner.

“She is the one who got the order of protection,” said the sheriff. “Then she later recanted her story, and they asked the court to expunge the case.”

Ward said the case went forward through the court system, and then the wife decided not to follow through with her complaint.

“In the Grand Jury, I presented my case and got a true bill,” said Ward. “Then she came and told the DA she did not want to pursue this, so he nollied the case. And had the record expunged.

“From now on, we will not nollie any more cases,” said Shoupe. “This has opened my eyes. I will not agree to another nollie. If they dismiss it, that’s fine. But when we have the evidence on a domestic case, we will pursue it.”


Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:56 am
by Marina
. ... ioID=18519

Chicago Attorney Wants Supreme Court to Hear Case on Parents' Rights

Produced by Tony Arnold on Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Chicago attorney wants to take her long-standing fight against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to the U.S. Supreme Court. Diane Redleaf says DCFS has treated parents unfairly when investigating cases of suspected child neglect or abuse. She filed a petition with the Supreme Court yesterday.

Redleaf says when DCFS suspects abuse in a family, it often gives the adults only two choices: either the suspected abuser must leave the house or the kids will be taken into temporary foster care.

REDLEAF: They can't present those options without having evidence. They need actual evidence before they tell a parent that those are their options.

Redleaf says such options amount to threats and are a violation of parents' rights. Last year, a federal court of appeals in Chicago ruled against Redleaf. The state child welfare agency would not comment on Redleaf's filing with the Supreme Court.


Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:31 pm
by Marina
. ... /712200346

Parents suing district over kid's referral

By Matt King
Times Herald-Record
December 20, 2007

WARWICK — The parents of a teenager referred to Child Protective Services because educators believed he was suicidal are suing the Warwick Valley School District.

In a federal claim, Everett Cox III, a former Warwick school board member, and Nan Ping Peng allege school officials violated their due process rights and their son's privacy rights. They want the district to pay for a private school.

"There's a level of recklessness here," said the parents' Goshen lawyer, Michael Sussman. "A kid has the right to speak out in response to a school assignment without a fear of his family being destroyed."

Sussman has had a string of legal victories suing school districts over due process violations. But those have been over suspensions from school or sports teams. This latest case gets at a more complex issue: how far schools should go to ensure children who are talking or writing about violence are not a danger to themselves or others.

Sussman said educators should be able to discriminate between a real problem and a kid who's in tune with a violent popular culture, and let parents decide what's best for a student.

But Pam Atkins, director at the Psychological Counseling Center at SUNY New Paltz, said school counselors have a duty to be sensitive to students' writing about violent behavior, and always err on the side of caution.

"Parents are specialists in raising children," Atkins said. "They are not specialists in suicide and homicide. We like to think we know our kids but so often our worries and our feelings about children interfere with our ability to see the truth about what's going on."

Warwick school officials declined comment. Their call to CPS came near the end of a school year in which the student had been in a fight with another student, been suspended for drawing on a school wall and written at least two school assignments that included references to violent activity, including suicide.

At the school's insistence, the student was evaluated by a psychologist in February, after he wrote the first essay. In April, in response to an assignment about how he would live his last 24 hours, the student wrote about doing drugs, taking poison and shooting himself.

He submitted the assignment before the April 16, 2007, massacre at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., in which a disturbed student killed 33 people, including himself. After the attack, school officials called the Child Protective Services hotline and, according to the suit, said the student was homicidal and suicidal and his parents provided "a minimal degree of care to their son."

The CPS psychiatrist who evaluated the student recommended a follow-up examination and sent him home with his parents.

[email protected]


Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:16 pm
by Marina
. ... 21.article

Woman arrested after leaving child in car sues
Though charges dropped, she is upset police won't admit error

March 21, 2008

Ellen "Treffly" Coyne couldn't get Crestwood police to admit they were wrong for arresting and charging her with child endangerment and obstruction of justice charges in December.

Now, she wants a court to tell police they were wrong.

Coyne, of Tinley Park, filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court, accusing Crestwood police of false arrest and malicious prosecution. She is seeking unspecified damages.

Coyne was charged after leaving her 2-year-old daughter in a locked car in front of a Crestwood Wal-Mart while she, her other two children and a neighbor's child went to put money in a Salvation Army kettle in December.

The car was never out of sight, she said. And when she returned to her car, community service officer Angel Brinicki told her she was going to be arrested.

Cook County prosecutors dropped the charges against Coyne last week, stating they could not meet the burden of proof.

Coyne's attorney Blake Horwitz said Crestwood rushed to arrest and charge Coyne without an investigation or a simple inquiry.

"They just made mistakes. They compounded the mistakes and then sought to cover up their mistakes by ultimately having to charge her," he said. "A simple inquiry would have stopped everything instantly. But an inexperienced officer engaged in a reckless act and it just compounded onto itself."

Coyne's husband, Tim Janecyk, said when the charges against his wife were dropped last week, they hadn't felt as though they had won anything.

He said matters were made worse for the family when Crestwood Police Chief Timothy Sulikowski publicly disagreed with prosecutors' decision to drop the charges. That contributed to their decision to pursue legal action against the city, he said.

Calls to Sulikowski and Mayor Robert Stranczek on Thursday were not returned.


Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:40 am
by Marina

Posted: Friday, March 21st, 2008 12:50 PM HST

Hawaii Supreme Court upholds abuse conviction

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) _ The Hawaii Supreme Court has upheld a $1.1 million award against the state in a Maui child abuse case.

The court says the Department of Human Services will have to pay the judgment for failing to protect a 2 1/2-year-old girl who suffered a broken leg in the abuse.

The girl in the 2001 case also suffered life-threatening internal injuries while the Child Welfare Services Branch was investigating her case.

The court ruled the state was negligent for allowing the child to remain in her mother's custody after the broken leg despite evidence her boyfriend was responsible for the injuries.

The award which followed a 16-day trial goes to the girl's biological father who sued the state, the mother and the boyfriend, as well as Maui Memorial Medical Center.


Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:31 pm
by Marina

Girl's death costs county $300,000

Parents said officials knew about foster child's deteriorating condition
By John Simerman

Article Launched: 04/02/2008 03:00:49 AM PDT

MARTINEZ -- The mishandling of medical information for an emaciated 2-year-old girl who died in late 2006 after eating baking soda while in foster care will cost Contra Costa $300,000 under a settlement that Supervisors approved Tuesday.
Deonna Green's natural parents, Mikisa Boone and Marvin Green, sued the county in May, seeking $20 million. They claimed county officials knew the toddler's health was flagging but shirked a duty to protect her. Their claim was based in part on what county health officials called a lapse in communication between county agencies.

The coroner ruled that Deonna died of sodium bicarbonate poisoning Dec. 13, 2006, after ingesting baking soda at her Pittsburg foster home. Prosecutors declined to charge the foster mother, Khareasha Pugh, saying they could not prove criminal negligence or that Pugh, 22, starved the girl.

But health officials acknowledged that medical records showed Deonna had lost 5 pounds from her already slight frame between an emergency room trip to the regional medical center in Martinez on Oct. 20, 2006, and a Nov. 30 visit to a county-run clinic in Pittsburg.

The emergency room doctor noted a "failure to thrive." A scheduled visit with a pediatrician four days later never happened. Six weeks later, the roving clinic doctor saw Deonna and ordered blood tests -- which eventually came back normal -- but he never raised concerns about her weight with the county's child welfare agency, officials said.

By then,
Deonna was nearly 3 years old and weighed just 19 pounds. She died two weeks after the clinic visit. Dr. William Walker, the county health services director, said then that malnutrition could make a body more vulnerable to a toxin like sodium bicarbonate.
In the wake of Deonna's death, officials for the two county agencies announced reforms to prevent similar lapses, including new health clinics for foster children and a computer tracking system for foster kids in the county health system.

Deonna and her older sister landed in foster care after Mikisa Boone suffered several bouts with alcohol abuse. The father's involvement with Deonna is unknown. They have agreed orally to the settlement agreement, county officials said, although they have not signed it yet. Their attorney, Edward Morris, did not return calls Tuesday.


Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:53 pm
by Marina
. ... n&psp=news

State Supreme Court Awards Family $1M In Abuse Case

POSTED: 1:05 pm HST April 3, 2008

HONOLULU -- The family of an injured child hopes a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling will change the way state agencies deal with abuse cases.

Dasia Morales Kahoohanohano suffered a broken leg seven years ago, an injury that doctors suspected was the result of abuse by Kahoohanohano's mother and her boyfriend.

The lawsuit claimed that Child Protective Services did not follow procedure to protect the child. Two months later, Kahoohanohano was hospitalized with new injuries, requiring the removal of part of her intestine.

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the state is liable for more than $1 million.

"We consider it a landmark decision because the court made an exhaustive, well-reasoned, comprehensive analysis we believe will be a leading case across the country," Kahoohanohano's family attorney Vladimir Devens said.

"It's a major step for all children for the simple reason we've now moved forward to protect them. That's the key for me, that's why we started this. I don't want anybody else, child or the family, to go through what we went through," Dasia Kahoohanohano's grandfather, George Kahoohanohano, said.

Dasia Kahoohanohano is now 10. She is under the sole custody of her father.


Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:10 pm
by Marina ... cation=rss

3 sue state over access to records

By Maureen O'Hagan

Seattle Times staff reporter

Enrique Fabregas was sentenced to four years in prison for sexual abuse.
Two women and a teenage girl who say they were abused by a foster father filed suit Thursday claiming the state improperly withheld records related to their case.

The records in question relate to the years they lived with Enrique Fabregas, a Redmond man who last summer was sentenced to four years in prison for sexual abuse.

The victim in that case, Estera Tamas, said she was abused by Fabregas beginning when she was 13. She and her sister, Ruth, were Fabregas' foster daughters. The third girl, now 14, was adopted by Fabregas in 1999. (Although The Seattle Times generally does not name victims of sexual abuse, Estera Tamas consented to her name being used. Ruth Tamas claims she was abused physically, not sexually.)

The three had asked for the records in preparation for their $45 million lawsuit against the state Department of Social and Health Services, which they claim failed to remove them from the home. Instead, they claim DSHS brushed aside dozens of complaints against Fabregas and left the girls with him for years.

Now their attorney, David Moody, says the state failed to turn over all of the documentation the law required. Under the Public Disclosure Act, the government can be fined $5 to $100 per document, per day, for improperly withholding information from requesters. The law is designed to allow citizens to learn what their government is doing.

In a statement, DSHS said it spent "hundreds of hours" producing records to fulfill Moody's requests.

"DSHS has complied with the public disclosure laws and never willfully concealed documents in this or any other public records request by Mr. Moody," the statement said.


Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:52 pm
by Marina

State to pay $2.4 million in foster care abuse case

[email protected]

Published: January 14th, 2008 03:22 PM
Last Modified: January 14th, 2008 03:23 PM

The state today agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle a civil lawsuit claiming it failed two boys who were abused and neglected in and out of foster care.

The settlement comes after two days of disturbing testimony brought by advocates for A.J. and D.D., now 17 and 18 and still in state custody. Lawyers for the boys claim the state failed to protect them from their own families, who were dysfunctional from use of drugs and alcohol, and that things only got worse when the two were put in an Anchorage foster home where they saw their foster mother beat another child to death.

Lawyers for the boys said that the settlement was not enough money to make things right for them. But the state had threatened to keep the case tied up in appeals for years and years, and the boys wouldn't have received any money for a long time.


Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:58 pm
by Marina
. ... 9/-1/RSS02

County could settle CPS lawsuit

By The Record
January 16, 2008 6:00 AM

SACRAMENTO - San Joaquin County could pay a Lodi family $312,500 to settle a lawsuit against a county social worker who briefly removed two children from their home seven years ago, according to a tentative settlement agreement filed Dec. 22 in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The settlement agreement still must be approved by the court and the county Board of Supervisors.

In 2001, a county social worker and a Lodi police officer investigated child abuse claims at the home of Thomas and Nicole Rogers. According to court documents, the social worker, Charlotta Royal, suspected their two children, 3 and 5 at the time, were malnourished and living in squalor and took them from the home without a judicial order.

The children were in foster care for about two weeks before returning home, according to court papers.

The Rogerses sued in federal court, claiming in part that officials should not have taken their children without a protective order.

In 2004, a federal judge sided with the county, but last May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling.

The city of Lodi settled in 2005 for $110,000 and is no longer a part of the case.


Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:18 pm
by Marina
. ... ryid=78109

Former foster parents sued

Brooksville, Florida — Former foster parents Arthur and Lori Allain are now being sued by a former foster child.

John Joseph Edwards Junior is suing them as well as the Department of Children and Families claiming the agency failed to recognize signs of neglect.

Ewards' lawyer says he suffered quote: “conditions like nazi death camp” when he lived with the Allains. They were arrested in 2004, and sentenced in 2006.

Both are serving 25 years for aggravated child abuse.

They were convicted of starving their foster daughter.. at 10 — she weighed 29 pounds.., her half brother... john joseph edwards junior said he too was mistreated by the allains