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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.

In June 2016, just two months after Makenzie was born, she was treated in the West Boca Medical Center Satellite Emergency Center for unexplained choking. Two months later she was at North Broward Medical Center with a black eye. Each time her mother claimed the injuries were honest mistakes. However, the baby was back in the ER only a few weeks later.

On Oct. 13, 2016, Makenzie was taken to Northwest Medical Center with several fractures in her lower leg and wrist. This prompted the emergency room doctor to call an abuse hotline who then contacted BSO’s Child Protective Investigations Section. The assigned investigator only spoke with Makenzie’s mother, not the physician or the father. The mother was cleared to bring Makenzie home, yet 11 days later she was back in the hospital unresponsive with a skull fracture and fractures to both femurs. Tragically, she passed away on Oct. 28, 2016.

Makenzie was often left in the care of her mother’s roommate, Juan Santos, who was convicted of aggravated manslaughter of a child and aggravated child abuse.

In the weeks since BSO was first contacted, they were supposed to be investigating the issue. Sadly, nothing was done to protect this child from the continual harm that was being inflicted upon her.

BSO was determined to be 58% responsible for the negligence, which will result in a judgment against them for $2.61 million. Because this is a claim against a government entity with a verdict in excess of $200,000, the father is now required to petition the Florida Legislature for a claims bill to recover the remaining amount of the judgment.

“Throughout this trial, Makenzie’s father was forced to relive the tragic events of his daughter’s life in order to obtain justice for her,” Grosz said. “We hope Sheriff Tony will immediately intervene and end this seven-year ordeal to ensure there is justice for Makenzie.”

This case was filed in Broward County Circuit Court and the judge was the Hon. Carol-Lisa Phillips.

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