Lawyers acting on behalf of a brother and sister who were abused and starved while in foster care are suing Oregon’s Department of Human Services for $32 million. The Oregon child injury case is a reminder that civil as well as criminal legal remedies exist for Oregon child injuries.
An 8 year old girl and her 6 year old brother were removed from their biological mother’s care in 2002 because of drug use, according to an article in yesterday’s Oregonian. By 2004, however, the children (then aged 10 and 8) were being beaten regularly and starved by their foster parents in Clackamas County, a situation DHS failed to pick-up on despite several attempts by the children to alert case workers. Eventually the children had to be evacuated to a hospital – the girl with a broken skull.
The lawsuit filed on their behalf seeks $3.3 million in damages for the boy. The remainder is for the girl, who suffered brain damage and will need lifetime physical and mental care. Both children have since been adopted.
Most foster parents, of course, are loving and supportive. When the system goes badly awry, however, foster parents as well as state officials and agencies who placed children in a clearly dangerous environment can and should be held accountable. According to The Oregonian, attorneys involved in this Oregon child injury case, which has been filed in Portland in Multnomah County Circuit Court, say the state and DHS have not done enough to account for their behavior or to punish the DHS caseworkers and supervisors who allowed the situation to spin out of control. The foster father was sentenced to two to five years in prison for criminal mistreatment, while the foster mother received two years probation.
A Portland child injury attorney can help parents and abused children alike take on abuses and dereliction of duty by state and local officials charged with overseeing child welfare. A comprehensive consultation with an experienced and compassionate Oregon child injury lawyer can be a key step in moving beyond the criminal courts in your effort to protect the rights of an injured child.