Partner Craig Hubert, assisted by Partner Janine Bauer and Attorney Brian Heyesey, recently settled a lawsuit for $1.25 million against the State of New Jersey based on allegations of child abuse and other torture to a child while in foster care supervised by the State’s child welfare agency, then known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The complaint asserted that DYFS failed to perform meaningful background checks on foster families and failed to both properly train DYFS staff and properly supervise through home visits the foster care of the victim.
The child, now aged 17, was abandoned by the birth mother and taken into custody by DYFS at the hospital in Elizabeth where the baby was born. To locate perspective foster and adoptive parents, DYFS enlisted a non-profit agency located in Franklin, New Jersey. According to the complaint, neither DYFS nor the non-profit agency performed thorough background checks in order to ensure the stability and safety of the foster homes in which the child was placed. In the first home placement, the mother had a live-in boyfriend with a substantial criminal record and she had previously been denied application by DYFS to serve as a foster parent.
The non-profit agency was removed as a defendant by a Superior Court Judge last year, citing immunity from litigation as a charitable organization. Craig Hubert disagrees with that decision and has filed an appeal.
The victim was placed in a foster home in 1999 and removed subsequently when it was determined that the child had been abused. He was placed in two other foster homes prior to the middle of 2002 and removed from both due to abuse, all prior to the victim’s third birthday.
The terms of the settlement, $1.25 million, include an annuity purchased for the child’s benefit, yielding monthly payments for 40 years to be used for treatment in dealing with the aftermath of horrific abuse and torture. Mr. Hubert further commented, “This is a terrible situation and no amount of money can compensate for the physical and psychological damage done to the victim and to the adoptive parents. Our team of attorneys takes satisfaction in our role in assisting the family to achieve the economic resources necessary to help address the ongoing consequences of these tragic circumstances. Unfortunately, there are no winners in these types of cases.”