Jury Awards $166 Million to 4-Year-Old Boy
The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services was ordered to pay $166 million to the grandparents of a now 4-year old boy who suffered brain damage after being beaten by his father. According to court records, the department failed to protect the child after a hospital found evidence of abuse.
Abuse Reported On May 28, 2009, Jadiel Velesquez was taken to his grandmother, Neomi Escobar, so that she could babysit the child, who was 4 months old at the time. The infant had bruises on his cheeks and blood in his eyes, prompting the grandmother to take him to Newark Beth Israel, where doctors noted abuse on his hospital records, but released him to his parents, Vanessa Merchan (Escobar’s daughter) and Joshua Velesquez. On June 3, which was the last time Escobar babysat for Jadiel, she found drug paraphernalia in the child’s diaper bag, and contacted New Jersey DYFS. She said that she called DYFS daily, especially when her daughter stopped bringing Jadiel to her to babysit and went into hiding from the agency. On June 12, 2009, the agency gathered the family to set up a plan for Jadiel’s protection, which included forbidding Joshua Velezquez from being alone with the child. Brain Damage Escobar says that the next time she saw her grandson was July 17, 2009, when he was in a hospital room, connected to a ventilator, after his father took him to the emergency room because Jadiel was bleeding from the mouth. Joshua Velesquez pleaded guilty to beating the child and is serving a six-year sentence in prison. Jadiel suffered severe brain damage, which left him blind, unable to feed himself, and in need of round-the-clock care. Court testimony shows that a supervisor at DSYF told Escobar to “stop calling” and that “everything was being taken care of” in the weeks just before the incident that left the child disabled. Full-Time Care Because Jadiel will require around-the-clock care for the rest of his life, experts testified that it could cost the family as much as $64 million over his life to care for him. The child’s mother no longer has custody of Jadiel, but does have contact with him, Escobar says. DSYF admitted that the child should have been removed from the care of his parents, but claimed that the parents were deceiving caseworkers throughout the investigation. DSYF is considering an appeal of the verdict. When the negligence of another person is suspected as the cause or a contributing factor in an accident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by someone else’s negligence.