New Jersey State Division Hit With Wrongful Death Suit

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The death of an 8-year-old girl has led to a civil suit being filed against the state on charges of negligence. The daughter of the girl’s godmother is alleging wrongful death and negligence against the state of New Jersey, who she claims knew about the girl’s abusive home life and did not do enough to remove her from the environment. Litigation is pending.

According to state records, the girl’s home was visited a total of four times between 2006 and 2008 by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, and each time evidence was found of abuse. The girl and her two siblings were being raised by their mother and a family friend, both of whom were involved in a religious cult. It is alleged that they beat and starved all three children, culminating in the death of the 8-year-old from what autopsy reports say was a combination of malnutrition and a broken leg. Both adults have been charged with murder.

The state, however, maintains that all proper procedures were followed. Although the girl and her siblings were quoted as saying they were being abused, the state claims to have found no substantial evidence for these claims. However, nine days before the 8-year-old’s death, the Division received an anonymous call reporting abuse in the household: a call the plaintiff says was not properly linked to other files and so not followed up.

New Jersey residents are understandably horrified by this tragedy, and the story has gained considerable media attention. A claim of wrongful death in the case of a child is especially serious, and the plaintiff’s case may well be strong enough to see a verdict passed that may change the way cases like these are handled in the future. Any wrongful death suit must be well-researched in order to improve its chances for success in a court of law.

Source:, “Negligence lawsuit filed against state in case of 8-year-old Irvington girl found dead,” Julia Terruso, May 21, 2013

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