The case of Jeanette Maples, the Eugene teenager who was starved and tortured to death by her own mother, shocked much of the state. Now, it is the state itself that stands accused of complicity in the girl’s death as the subject of an Oregon wrongful death lawsuit, according to television station KVAL and the Eugene Register-Guard.
The newspaper reports that Maples’ estate is suing Oregon Child Protective Services and the state Department of Human Services, alleging that their failure to protect the teen was “a substantial factor” in her death. Maples’ mother pled guilty to murder in criminal court and was later sentenced to death. The new suit, however, “claims the State of Oregon was negligent in not preventing Maples’ death by abuse,” KVAL reports.
According to the Register-Guard, the suit also alleges that the state’s neglect continued over an extended period of time. Specifically, “that state workers failed to ‘investigate and heed’ allegations of abuse from reliable sources beginning in 2006” and that this pattern of neglect continued until Maples’ death, nearly four years later.
From the perspective of an Oregon wrongful death attorney, the decision by Maples’ estate to go ahead with the $1.5 million lawsuit is a forceful reminder of the remedies civil courts can and do offer when victims leave the criminal court system feeling that justice has not been fully served. A Portland or Eugene wrongful death suit can be an emotional – even difficult – experience for family members already struggling to cope with tragedy, but it can also offer a sense of both closure and of justice that a criminal trial often fails to provide.
Eugene Register-Guard: Girl’s death spurs lawsuit