Boston Wrongful Death Attorney Case
Child Drowns in DSS Custody – Wrongful Death – $500,000.00
Reported in the Lawyers Weekly
The plaintiff decedent, a 7 year old girl, was taken out of her mother’s custody in May 1998 when she was accused of abuse. Even though the charge was later determined to be unsubstantiated, the child was not given back to the mother. During the time that the child was not in the mother’s care, the plaintiff decedent was being cared for at a facility operated by the Department of Social Services.
While under the care of the facility, two teenagers employed by the defendant took the plaintiff decedent to the pond for a swim. On that day approximately 50 people were at the pond and beach that surrounded it. It is thought that the employees did not notify the lifeguards that they had arrived. After setting up on the beach, the employees socialized while trying to keep an eye on the children who were swimming.
During this time it was reported that the plaintiff decedent was too far out in the water, and did not know how to swim in deep water. Shortly thereafter, the employees noticed that one child was missing, and started their own search on land instead of telling the lifeguards.
When the employees could not find the plaintiff decedent, they then notified the lifeguards who started a water search. Within a matter of minutes, the plaintiff decedent was found in about five feet of water that was roped off. Further investigations showed that the roped area was not supposed to be deeper than four feet, but there was a slope where the body was found.
Following an investigation by medical and forensic personnel, it was discovered that the plaintiff decedent had been under water for approximately 15 minutes.
Fresh water drowning was the cause of the plaintiff decedent’ injury and death. Lifeguards performed CPR, and when medical personnel arrived, this attention continued. The medical team was able to regain a pulse, but on the way to the hospital the plaintiff decedent was not breathing. She was later transported to another Boston hospital, and medical staff tried to get her to come out of her comatose state for three weeks. In the end this was unsuccessful. The plaintiff’s family recovered $500,000.00 under the wrongful death statute, which can seriously limit recovery.