Judge Cuts Record $166M Verdict Against N.J. Child Protection Agency

, New Jersey Law Journal

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New Jersey's largest jury verdict in a personal injury case, $166 million handed up last year in the case of an infant who was beaten and permanently disabled after state child-protection workers left him with an abusive father has been pared down to $102 million.

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    I agree that DYFS should have to pay for the child‘s future medical costs, but I do not agree that the money should be given in one lump sum. Instead, the money should be placed in trust exclusively and solely for the purpose of paying the child‘s costs of medical treatment, as determined by an independent guardian on an as-needed basis. Otherwise, it will be a sum of money that technically can be inherited by the child‘s heirs. In the absence of a will or other legal agreement, after her death, that money would go intestate to her parents, both or one of whom caused the injures in the first place!! That would be an outrage. Also, if the money was awarded solely for that purpose and the child no longer has the need for the services because she is dead, it makes not sense for taxpayers to enrich the child‘s relatives.

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    From Kenneth Ellman, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860, Email:ke@kennethellman.com In reference to New Jersey Law Journal article about Essex County Superior Court Judge James Rothschild Jr. and the Dec. 13 verdict against the Division of Youth and Family Services I make the following comment. While the article concentrates on the $105 million award for 4-year-old Jadiel Velesquez against the DYFS of NJ, that is not the significant issue that this case should remind us of.
    The extraordinary failure in Child Protective Services and the injury or killing of children in care of Social Service agencies is a nationwide disaster. It is a terrible tragedy that Social Service agencies are involved in the investigation of crimes against children. Worse than the involvement is that in many cases the enabling statutes are interpreted to give Social Service agencies the primary protective responsibility for investigation of criminal acts against children. As a result children are given less protection than that accorded to adults by de facto deprivation of or impairing their access to the Criminal Justice System. Certainly Law Enforcement Agencies have their own burdens and limitations, but we do not resolve that by abandoning our Child Victims to Social Workers.
    We can create and support specialized Police Departments as discussed in the Matter of Sharon B. 72 NY2d 394 and In the Matter of Diane P. 110 AD2d 354. We can increase the ability of Municipal and County Police Departments to provide law enforcement services to children. My experience indicates that specialized law enforcement agencies frequently provide better results, but what we cannot do is nothing. We cannot continue to leave our children at the mercy of Social Workers allowing Crimes Against Children to have a different status from that of Criminal acts against an Adult.
    It would be wonderful to see Judgments rendered to the extent that Social Service agencies are removed from investigation of crimes against children. That is what our children need and deserve. Kenneth Ellman, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860. Email:ke@kennethellman.com

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    Doesnt shock the conscience at all. Turn sarcasm off.

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    So an overworked social worker‘s neglect costs NJ taxpayers $102 million.

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