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Archive for the ‘Court Cases’ Category

DCF Must Pay $15 Million to a Child for Failing to Protect her From Horrific Abuse, a Jury Decided

January 2nd, 2024   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) failed to investigate complaints that the mother was using drugs and endangering her child, who suffered “catastrophic” permanent injuries from severe abuse and neglect.  The child, H.H., is now eight years old and completely dependent on others for all aspects of her daily functioning, according to Justice for Kids, which represented her.  The award is among the largest in state history for this kind of case.  The jury’s verdict speaks to “the sheer magnitude and severity” of the girl’s injuries, attorney Stacie Schmerling said.   The Department received a report through its abuse hotline about H.H. and her brother in May 2017, concerning drug activity in the home and poor living conditions.   Moreover, the stepfather, who lived in the home and was a caregiver to H.H., had a criminal history that included arrests for violent crimes, the complaint says.

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Family Awarded $13.5 Million for Adoption that Led to Molestation Following a Trial Led by Justice for Kids

December 19th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Following a seven-day trial led by the Justice for Kids Team, a jury awarded $13.5 million to a family that suffered harm after the adoption agency Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) failed to warn them about psychological problems that make their adopted son unsafe to be around their daughters, one of whom was later molested.  The $13.5 million dollar verdict against JFCS validated claims by the boy’s adoptive parents that the nonprofit failed to convey how risky it would be to place the boy in their home.  “They cannot escape accountability,” attorney Justin Grosz told jurors during final arguments for the seven-day trial, which centered on whether Jewish Family staff failed before adoption to alert the couple to behavioral problems that could last a lifetime.

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Orlando Sentinel: Jury orders Florida to pay $15 million to Volusia girl tortured by parents

December 9th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

A young girl has been awarded a $15 million verdict against the Florida Department of Children & Families for negligently investigating abuse reports. Stacie Schmerling and Lisa Elliott, attorneys with the Justice for Kids Division of Kelley Kronenberg, represented the eight-year-old girl, who was tortured and suffered permanent traumatic brain injury and quadriplegia from repeated episodes of abusive head trauma.

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Jury Awards Father $4.5 Million in Damages in Wrongful Death Case Involving Broward Sheriff’s Office

August 18th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases, Negligence

Christopher Nevarez, the father of Makenzie Nevarez, a 6-month-old baby girl who suffered catastrophic injuries and later passed away from blunt force trauma, has been awarded $4.5 million in damages in a wrongful death case involving the Broward Sheriff’s Office for failure to protect his daughter.

Justin Grosz and Stacie Schmerling, partners with Justice for Kids at Kelley Kronenberg, represented Makenzie’s father and grandmother in the case, which alleged that the child protection investigator, under the auspices of BSO at the time, could have done more to further investigate previous injuries and keep Makenzie safe while in the care of her mother and her mother’s roommate.

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Sun-Sentinel: Family of baby killed in abuse case seeking $15 million from Broward Sheriff’s Office

August 15th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Jury deliberations are underway in this Justice for Kids case involving the death of 6-month-old Makenzie Nevarez. Her family is accusing the Broward Sheriff’s Office of negligence.

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Sun-Sentinel: A baby girl who was the subject of an abuse investigation was killed. Now, a trial begins that accuses child-welfare officials of negligence.

August 9th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Justice for Kids is in court this week regarding a lawsuit about 6-month-old baby Makenzie Nevarez, whose babysitter went to prison in her death. They have alleged that Broward Sheriff’s Office was negligent, arguing the child protection investigator, under the auspices of the agency at the time, could have done more to further the investigation and keep the baby safe.

Makenzie had previously been taken to hospitals in northwest Broward twice for unexplained injuries before BSO put her back into the care of the mother and her roommate who was often the babysitter. Tragically, she died more than a week later.

A baby died in foster care in Marion. Now two social service agencies face negligence case.

August 2nd, 2022   No Comments   Court Cases

Stacie Schmerling and Lisa Elliott of Kelley Kronenberg’s Justice for Kids Division have filed a lawsuit against two social service agencies on behalf of the estate of an infant who died while in foster care in Marion County. Read more in this article from the Ocala StarBanner here.

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DBR: This Broward Woman’s Case Could Change the Way Hospitals, DCF Evaluate Disabled Parents

Sadly, individuals who live with a disability are constantly at risk of losing their children to state care, despite having done nothing wrong and despite whether a true threat exists. Stacie Schmerling, a partner at Justice for Kids, a division of Kelley Kronenberg, and attorney Matthew Dietz hope to shine a light on this injustice and change the way the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Child welfare systems assess parents with disabilities.

Read more about their case in this article from the Daily Business Review by clicking here.

Miami Herald: BSO could have intervened to protect this abused baby. It didn’t. She died violently.

November 5th, 2018   No Comments   Court Cases

This is yet another devastating example of the mishandling of a child’s safety when red flags had previously been raised about the child’s care. Talenfeld Law partner, and former BSO child abuse investigator, Stacie Schmerling discusses the recent lawsuit in this article from the Miami Herald.

Click here to view the full article.

Governor Scott Signs $5 Million Claims Bill for Child Sexually Abused by Foster Boy Living in the Home

On Friday, March 23, Governor Rick Scott signed CS/HB 6509, a claims bill that directs the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to pay more than $5 million awarded by a Florida jury to C.M.H., a victim of sexual abuse by a child in foster care. This marks the largest known recovery in Florida for one child who was emotionally and sexually abused against a governmental defendant, DCF. Children’s rights attorney and Talenfeld Law Founder Howard Talenfeld served as co-counsel for C.M.H.

The bill is the result of a verdict and judgment against DCF on behalf of C.M.H., who was sexually assaulted at age nine by an 11-year-old foster child (“J.W.”) that DCF had placed at the home without a safety plan.

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Florida Legislature Approves Claims Bill for Child Sexually Abused by Foster Boy Living in the Home

March 15th, 2018   Comments Off on Florida Legislature Approves Claims Bill for Child Sexually Abused by Foster Boy Living in the Home   Abuse, Court Cases, Department of Children & Families (DCF)

On Thursday, March 8, the Florida Legislature approved a Claims Bill regarding a West Palm Beach jury verdict, which would provide $5 million to a victim of sexual abuse. The bill is the result of a verdict against the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) on behalf of a young man (“C.M.H.”) who was sexually assaulted at age nine by an 11-year-old foster child (“J.W.”) that DCF had placed at the home. Children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld represented C.M.H.

Read the entire story from the Palm Beach Post by clicking here

 

Florida DCF Lawyer Warned in Case of Foster Child Suicide Aired on Facebook Live

Private attorneys who fight for the rights of at-risk and foster children are watching closely as a Miami judge overseeing a case related to a child’s January suicide that was streamed from her foster home on Facebook Live threatened a Florida Department of Children and Families lawyer to jail for reportedly misleading the judge.  The judge is exploring whether other children in the foster home may have witnessed Naika Venant, the 14-year-old emotionally troubled foster child as she hanged herself.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia, the judge overseeing the case, demanded Florida’s regional child welfare legal director to appear in her court in March.

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