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Geoffrey D. Mueller


$166M Verdict Entered Against NJ Division of Youth and Family Services (Agency For Child Protection) For Negligent Placement

Per The N.J. Law Journal:

"A New Jersey jury on Friday awarded $166 million to an infant beaten to the point of permanent blindness and brain damage by a parent that the state child-welfare agency allowed to keep custody.

"The Essex County verdict against the Division of Youth and Family Services came after a two-week trial and about two hours of deliberation.

"The state had made a $10 million settlement offer on Wednesday but plaintiff attorney David Mazie of Mazie Slater Katz and Freeman in Roseland rejected it.

"The suit—brought by the child's maternal grandmother Neomi Escobar, who had alerted DYFS to the father's abusive tendencies—claimed that case worker Felix Umetiti and other agency officials negligently failed to remove Jadiel Velesquez from his parents' care.
Escobar alleged that Umetiti recognized that the father was a danger but failed to obtain his criminal history, order a psychological evaluation or report the case to prosecutors or the regional diagnostic treatment center.

"DYFS violated at least 17 of its own policies, the suit alleged."

Full article after the jump...