Four foster children who have accused their foster parents of rape and sexual abuse have filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Human Resources and their former foster parents. In one of the largest lawsuits ever filed against the department, the foster children seek $25 million in damages. The plaintiffs claim that the DHR failed to take appropriate action against their former foster care parents, whom they claim subjected them to rape, starvation, physical abuse, and neglect.
The foster father is currently in prison serving a 25-year sentence after he pled guilty to two counts of child rape, 11 counts of aggravated child abuse, and one count of sexual torture. The former foster mother has been criminally charged after being accused of hitting and choking the children and denying them necessary medical care.
Alabama Law Enforcement began investigating this case after three teenagers were found intoxicated at a fast-food restaurant. When questioned, the teenager said their foster father gave them alcohol. After investigators called on the children, they began investigating accounts of physical abuse and molestation. The lawsuit claims that the DHR employees failed to take action after perceiving multiple red flags related to the foster parents. The plaintiffs allege that the DHR employees ignored repeated signs of child neglect and child abuse, resulting in physical and emotional injuries to the children. As a result, the plaintiffs allege that they were forced to endure abuse for years.
Family of 19-Month-Old Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against DHR
As discussed above, foster children who are abused by their foster parents do have a legal right to bring a lawsuit against Alabama DHR. To succeed, they must prove that DHR knew about the potential or actual child abuse and failed to take reasonable actions to stop it. Family members also have a right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against DHR when the actions of DHR employees result in a child’s death. Specifically, the estate of the deceased child can file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages. If successful, the damages will be transferred into the child’s estate and distributed to their heirs.
The estate of a 19-month-old recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alabama DHR, claiming that DHR failed to prevent the little girl’s death. The mother’s boyfriend brutally assaulted her in July. After seeking treatment in a children’s hospital for unexplained burns to her right arm, DHR allegedly allowed the little girl to return to live with her mother after becoming aware of the severe burns.
According to the lawsuit, multiple family members expressed concern about the little girl’s safety at DHR. They specifically told DHR that the child should not remain in the care of her mother. Sadly, she died later that month after the mother’s boyfriend violently assaulted her. As a result of the assault, she suffered from a lacerated liver and severe head trauma. The mother’s boyfriend is now facing capital murder charges. The assault occurred when the child’s mother had left her alone with her boyfriend for several hours.
The plaintiffs in the wrongful death lawsuit are contending that had DHR acted reasonably and prevented the child from returning to live with her mother after her severe burns, she would not be deceased today. Unfortunately, cases of extreme child abuse and neglect are common in Alabama. There are multiple instances in which DHR has reunited parents with children despite evidence that the choice will expose the child to further abuse and neglect.
Tragically, the cases in which DHR fails to do its job continue to pile up. In March, a lawyer appointed by an Alabama judge to oversee a deceased child’s estate brought a wrongful death lawsuit against DHR. The lawsuit alleges that DHR and multiple employees ignored warnings about neglect and abuse related to a boy with cerebral palsy. The boy was discovered unresponsible at his mother’s home in 2018 and died from his injuries. DHR had already removed four other children from his mother’s apartment but failed to remove him.
Bringing a Lawsuit Against DHR in Alabama
If your loved one has suffered injuries or died due to DHR’s negligence, we recommend speaking to one of our experienced lawyers as soon as possible. We believe that the DHR should be held accountable for its role in children’s deaths. Contact Heninger Garrison Davis today to schedule your free case evaluation.