Litigation Unit Archive

Sharonda B., et al. v. Herrick

A DCFS caseworker placed four children with an unlicensed, non-relative foster parent without getting the required background checks. The foster parent and her adult sons had criminal records including convictions for weapons and drugs. Although the caseworker was required to visit the children monthly to ensure their safety, he never visited the home while the children lived there. One night, the foster parent came home from a drug binge and murdered the youngest child, Coreese. The autopsy revealed that Coreese's body was covered with old and new marks, scars and bruises, including a gaping gash in the center of his forehead, burns to his ears, chipped teeth and missing fingernails and toenails. The medical examiner counted nearly 400 injuries to Coreese. The Public Guardian secured a settlement on behalf of Coreese's three siblings.

Old Orchard

The Public Guardian negotiated a settlement on behalf of a group of young men who were residents of a mental health facility. Staff members at the facility failed to supervise the boys. As a result, several of the boys were sexually assaulted. The Public Guardian settled the matter, including funds deposited in an educational trust that several of the young men have used for college.

Mable A., et al. v. Woodard

Three young children were placed with a relative and her boyfriend, a convicted felon. The DCFS caseworker claimed that he visited the children monthly, but the evidence showed that he visited no more than once or twice in the year that the children lived there. The foster parents repeatedly tortured and starved the children. Two-year-old Carolyn had deep injuries to her feet as the result of repeated beatings with a hairbrush. She was unable to walk and required skin graft surgery to the bottoms of her feet. After a trial in federal court, a jury awarded the children damages against the DCFS caseworker. The parties later settled the matter.

Apostol, et al. v. Aunt Martha's

The Public Guardian filed a lawsuit against a social-service agency that placed two children in the foster home of a convicted drug dealer and then failed to visit the boys on a regular basis. One child, William, lived in the home only five weeks before he burned to death in a bathtub full of scalding water. Develle, age one, was found to have extensive open wounds to his back, feet and chin, and bald patches on his head. Both boys were severely malnourished. In September 2003, the Public Guardian secured a settlement for William's estate and Develle.

Jesus M.

In March 2005, the Public Guardian settled a case against a social-service agency whose foster parents were caught on a neighbor's "nanny cam" abusing Jesus. The tape also revealed that the agency's transportation aide was in the home during one of the beatings. The Public Guardian secured a settlement for Jesus.

Aisha W., et al. v. Aunt Martha's, et al.

Three-year-old Aisha and her six-year-old brother Xavier were placed in a non-relative foster home. The Public Guardian alleged that during that time, the worker failed to visit the children on a monthly basis, failed to speak to the children outside the presence of their foster parents and failed to provide the children with social services. As a result of these failures, the agency and caseworker never discovered that Aisha and Xavier were being horribly abused, neglected, starved and, in the case of Aisha, sexually assaulted, by their foster parents. The foster parents pled guilty to aggravated battery to a child and served time in prison. At the civil trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defendants. The Public Guardian won a reversal of the jury's verdict in the appellate court. The parties later reached settlement.

Jennifer Y. v. Velazquez, et al.

The Public Guardian sued two DCFS licensing workers, alleging that they allowed Jennifer to be placed with an abusive foster parent. Less than six weeks after placement, Jennifer was rushed to the hospital. She was non-responsive and actively seizing, with bruises on her face and head. Doctors concluded that Jennifer's injuries were the result of deliberate and violent shaking. As a result of the abuse, Jennifer now has permanent mental retardation and is partially paralyzed. While her cognitive damage is permanent, it is as yet unclear to what extent, if any, she will regain the use of her left side. Jennifer now suffers from a seizure disorder that is a direct consequence of the abuse. The parties settled the case in June 2008.

Charlie C. v. Reed, et al.

The Public Guardian filed suit in federal court against a DCFS caseworker and a private social-service agency on behalf of Charlie C., a disabled twenty-year-old young man with the cognitive abilities of a two-year-old child. DCFS placed Charlie in a group home. While residing at the group home, Charlie was severely burned over almost half his body after staff members left him unsupervised in a bathtub full of hot water. The Public Guardian settled the case in 2006.

James B., et al. v. Youth Empire Service, et al.

In January 2003, officers from the Chicago Police Department's gang unit raided the foster home of James B. and Katelin D. Not only did officers find the expected stash of guns and drugs, they found something that they did not expect: three-year-old James chained by his neck to a bed with a sheet over him. The Public Guardian subsequently learned that the children were abused, neglected and starved in the foster home. The foster parents' son, who was the target of the raid, had a criminal history that should have prevented foster home licensure. The foster mother was convicted of two counts of unlawful restraint. The Public Guardian sued the two agencies responsible for licensing and monitoring the children in the home and the foster parents. The parties settled the case in mid-2007.

Louis B.

A private social-service agency ignored several red flags that would have prevented a foster home from being licensed. The agency licensed the home anyway and placed Louis there. While in the home, the foster mother held Louis' hands under scalding water because he had been "bad." Louis suffered second- and third-degree burns to his hands. He has lifelong scarring and discoloration on each arm between his wrist and elbow and emotional trauma due to the abuse. The foster mother was convicted of aggravated battery and was sentenced to five years in prison. In September 2008, the parties reached a settlement.

Harris v. Lawrence A.

Lawrence A. brutally murdered his wife. The Public Guardian filed a wrongful death and survival action against Mr. A. on behalf of the couple's two young daughters, now wards of the juvenile court. In July 2009, the Public Guardian secured a judgment against Mr. A.


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New Policy and Legislation Cook County Public Guardian Announces First Issue of The Advocate Newsletter Read more
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