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Posts Tagged ‘damages’

Care Providers Can Reduce Liability and Lawsuit Risk When Helping Florida Foster Children

September 4th, 2009   No Comments   Damage Claims

Child Advocate Lawyer to DCF Dependency Summit: Reduce Risks & Damage Awards in the Child Welfare System

Attorney Howard Talenfeld, who focuses his practice on protecting the rights of vulnerable individuals in civil rights cases, personal injury cases and systemic reform litigation, presented at the Florida Department of Children & Families Dependency Summit on August 27 to DCF employee’s, lead agencies and other providers on Preventative Law and Early Risk Assessment.

Presenting with Talenfeld were DCF’s John Copelan, Esq., Karen Nissen of Vernis & Bowling of Palm Beach, and Derrick Roberts of ChildNet.

As an attorney and child advocate, Talenfeld has been involved in many of the significant and innovative child advocacy claims handled throughout Florida and the country. Talenfeld is perhaps best known in the child advocacy legal arena for his work as one of first attorneys nationally to utilize a federal civil rights damage statute to recover damages for injured foster children. In its 2001 case Roe v. Florida Department of Children & Family Services, the firm recovered a $5 million damage award – an amount in excess of Florida’s sovereign immunity limit of $100,000 – on behalf of six foster children.

To protect the developmentally disabled and the mentally retarded, the firm in Baumstein v. Sunrise Communities successfully argued in the Third District Court of Appeal to establish a private cause of action for damages based upon the violation of Florida’s Bill of Rights for the developmentally disabled. This decision was the first to recognize this approach which led to a significant settlement of this wrongful death damages claim.

Talenfeld represents children injured while in state care because he knows that after children in DCF custody turn 19, no one to help them get the care, treatment and support they need to face the future.

His role on this panel, though, blended both his litigation successes as well as his specialized knowledge of how to protect the rights of foster care and other children in the state’s care. (more…)

Florida $4 Million Damages Paid to Former Foster Children a Step Toward Fixing the System

August 24th, 2009   No Comments   Abuse, Damage Claims, Foster Care

When the Associated Press reported that the state of Florida will pay more than $3 million to two foster children for not preventing them from abuse and starvation in their Hernando County home, Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon termed the case “horrific.”

John Joseph Edwards Jr., 19, and his half-sister, 15, received $700,000 and  $3.275 million, respectively. Their foster parents, Lori and Arthur “Tommy” Allain, received 25 years in prison for child abuse and neglect in 2006. Not only were the kids put in a dangerous home, a DCF panel that investigated said countless child welfare workers missed or ignored signs of abuse and found they allowed it to escalate.

Putting foster kids in dangerous homes, with little follow-up, and then paying settlements when things go horribly wrong has become an expensive reality — one that Sheldon is trying to correct. (more…)

Florida Today: Sanction Doctors, Child Workers Who Ignore Rules in Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs

Florida Today writes about the Florida Department of Children and Families study of compliance by physicians and case workers with regard to legal rules related to prescribing mental health drugs to foster care kids. The publication commented that they report was “disturbing and demands action.”

The conclusions — of both the study and Florida Today’s editors — are correct: The practice is too widespread, with too little oversight.

Yet this should be just a starting point. If it were to conduct a similar study, I believe the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities ( APD ) would arrive at similar conclusions, namely that group home operators often are administering these medications without the proper power of consent from families or guardians, and physicians aren’t obtaining appropriate histories and conducting appropriate physical or behavioral examinations.

The improper use of psychotropic medications has hit near epidemic proportions in the Florida foster care and group home setting. The public first realized this with the April suicide of Gabriel Myers, 7, and weeks later, with a wrongful death lawsuit filed following the overdose of Denis Martez, 12.

Florida Today’s editorial helps raise public awareness of this important issue. We all should keep awareness high so we can remedy this serious situation. Read the full editorial here.

Mother’s Suit Seeks Justice for Autistic Son Killed by ‘Psychotropic Cocktail’

May 21st, 2009   No Comments   Damage Claims, Psychotropic
Denis Martez and mother, Martha Quesada.

Denis Martez and mother, Martha Quesada.

Martha Quesada shed tears but was the poignant focal point of a press conference this week as she discussed her demands for justice for the death of her 12-year-old autistic son, Denis Martez.

His cause of death, according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner: Central Serotonergic Syndrome. This resulted from “the co-administration of multiple psychotropic medications with no monitoring or supervision,” the lawsuit claims.

“This is a clear case of a 12-year-child who perished because he was given a lethal combination of off-label, dangerous, anti-psychotic drugs to control his behavior without appropriate consent, administration and supervision.” said Howard Talenfeld, Quesada’s attorney and partner with Fort Lauderdale law firm, Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale. Partner Maria Elena Abate is co-counsel on the case.

“Tragically, this case is one of many cases where foster children and developmentally disabled children are given powerful drug to control their behavior instead of utilizing appropriate behavioral interventions,” Talenfeld said. “This is an important first step in seeking remedy for Ms. Quesada’s loss, and raising awareness of the cavalier prescription, administration  of medications to control behavior with little regard for possible counter-indications or devastating results.” (more…)

Florida Foster Care Round-Up: Leekin Damage Suit for Fraud — & Kids Failed by the System

A 7-year-old foster child, a career criminal and the Florida Department of Children and Families led the headlines regarding the foster care and child welfare arena across Florida and the nation over the past few weeks. Here are summaries of some of those and other stories…

In one of the biggest stories, The New York Times reported on April 30 in Suit Contends City Failed to Prevent Adoption Fraud, how lawyers contended in a lawsuit that New York City violated the rights of 10 disabled children who were adopted more than a decade ago by Judith Leekin, a former Queens woman now in a Florida jail and who abused them and used government subsidies meant for their care to support a lavish lifestyle.

The Miami Herald on April 30 wrote State probes apparent suicide of foster child, 7, an opening reporting salvo by journalists and columnists in what we expect to be a very chilling and alarming case – that of Gabriel Myers, the boy who took his own life at a Broward County foster home after a stormy nine-month odyssey through the state foster-care system and the questionable use of psychotropic drugs used to quell problem children.


Florida, New York Attorneys File Lawsuit For Failure to Protect Foster Children From Abusive Foster Mom

Attorneys Howard Talenfeld and Ted Babbitt discuss their federal lawsuit against New York City's Administration for Children's Services in the case of Judith Leekin's abuse of the foster care system and 10 children in her care.

As one of the children looks on, attorneys Howard Talenfeld and Ted Babbitt discuss their federal lawsuit against New York City's Administration for Children's Services in the case of Judith Leekin's abuse of the foster care system and 10 children in her care.

Calling her rapacious, her foster home a “house of horrors,” and the case “one of the worst child welfare disasters in the history of this country,” attorneys for 10 former foster care children of now-imprisoned foster mom Judith Leekin spelled out their case for damages this week before more than a dozen journalists.

Attorneys Howard Talenfeld, partner with Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Ted Babbitt, partner with Babbitt, Johnson, Osborne & Le Clainche, P.A., in West Palm Beach, Florida, described the case, Leekin, and the New York City department whose job it is to oversee foster care kids and their caregivers.

The federal lawsuit claims New York City failed to properly screen Leekin, who – according to the Associated Press, “used fictitious identities to adopt 10 disabled children and later repeatedly abused, starved and imprisoned them in a ‘house of horrors.'” The  suit was filed Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court on behalf of the children whom Leekin, now 64 and imprisoned in Florida, adopted over an eight-year period ending in 1996. (more…)

Florida Settles DCF Damages Case of Foster Kids’ Abuse for $14 million

September 28th, 2007   No Comments   Damage Claims

· Daily Business Review –– Sept. 28, 2007 — “State settles DCF case for $14 million” The state of Florida settled a high-profile case regarding a lawsuit on behalf of foster children placed by the state Department of Children and Families into care with a woman against whom multiple abuse reports had been filed.

· Sarasota Herald-Tribune –– Sept. 28, 2007 — “State pays $14 million to foster children in abuse case” Florida agreed to pay $14 million to foster children in a high-profile case brought against the state.

State DCF Pays Record $5 million in Damage Case to Six Kids Molested in Foster Care

May 17th, 2002   No Comments   Damage Claims

· The Miami Herald –– May 17, 2002 — “DCF to pay $5 million to six kids in Broward.” This article references a $5 million settlement paid by the state to six Broward County children — the highest amount paid to date, and the role persistent critic and attorney Howard Talenfeld played in the case.

· South Florida Sun-Sentinel –– May 17, 2002 — “DCF to pay $5 million in siblings’ abuse case” Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate Shareholder Howard Talenfeld, who sued the DCF on behalf of the children was featured in this article about the $5 million suit.