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Florida Child Injury Lawyers 

Justice for Kids® is a national law practice that specializes in representing injured children who have suffered due to negligence, abuse, accidents, or by the fault of another. We strive to help families get the justice they deserve and the compensation they need. With over thirty years of experience, our child injury lawyer’s unique approach to the representation of injured and abused children has not only secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements—our lawsuits, settlements, and case rulings have also helped to change the law.

Child Injury Claims

At Justice for Kids, we represent children who are catastrophically injured in all settings. We represent parents in death cases where we believe that we can protect other children from the same tragedies. Our team helps all children who are paralyzed, brain damaged, sexually abused, and permanently injured. We strive to create trusts to fund life care plans to care for these children throughout the remainder of their lives.

  • David Carl Ashcroft v. Calder Race Course, 429 So.2d 1309 (Fla 1986) (Miami ) David Ashcroft, a 20-year-old apprentice jockey, suffered catastrophic injuries when his horse veered across the racecourse toward a negligently placed exit gap, which caused his horse to attempt to leave the track. Ashcroft lost control of the horse and fell to the ground where he was run over by another horse, rendering him a quadriplegic. The case was tried before a jury, which rendered a $10 million verdict. On appeal, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the verdict, finding that Ashcroft voluntarily assumed the risk and exposed himself to the danger complained of. On review to the Supreme Court of Florida, The Court reinstated the verdict and ruled that although horse-racing is a dangerous sport, Ashcroft did not assume the unreasonable risk of a negligently designed and maintained race track. Read more
  • South Florida Jet Ski Tragedy Settles for Undisclosed Sum. AD was tragically killed while riding a jet ski on a lake in Miami, FL. He was only 15 years old. An investigation, on behalf of AD’s parents, discovered that the events which led to his death actually started in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, more than 15 years earlier. An Australian pine tree that was more than 80 feet tall had been knocked down in the storm at the bank of a privately-owned lake. The homeowner tried to push the tree into the lake, to sink it, but the tree was too large and dense. Rather than sink it or have it removed, the homeowner left the tree on a shallow shelf at the edge of the lake, with the trunk extending more than 50 feet into the navigable part of the waterway. When the tide was low, the tree was exposed and visible. However, as the tide rose the tree was obscured just beneath the surface. The homeowners who lived on the lake hired a lake maintenance company to take care of the lake. Over the years, homeowners became aware that the tree was jutting into the waterway and the lake maintenance company even struck it on multiple occasions while cleaning the lake. Despite knowledge of the tree’s existence and that it had been struck before, no one ever removed the tree. AD was invited by a friend to go jet skiing and had never been on that lake before. As he came around the lake, the jet ski struck the obscured tree, redirecting him into a dock. In an extremely difficult and hard fought case, which spanned closed to five years, involved hundreds of defendants, depositions and a host of legal issues ranging from riparian rights to water safety maintenance and accident reconstruction, justice was finally achieved and the case was ultimately settled, confidentially, in excess of seven figures..
  • Confidential Settlement in Death of Minor at Day Care Facility. After picking up a two-year-old child one summer morning, the day care center he was entrusted to failed to conduct head counts and take attendance as children were entering the facility. Had they taken attendance and compared it to the transportation logs, as they are mandated by the state to do, the day care center would have rapidly discovered that NS was still on the van. For more than five hours, no one noticed that he was unaccounted for and missing. It was not until someone picked up his backpack that they realized he wasn’t there. NS was found inside the van. Tragically, he did not survive. Entrusted with the most vulnerable, childcare facilities are governed by state mandated standards to ensure the protection of our children and when they fail, they must be held accountable. We were able to reach a confidential settlement prior to initiating litigation.
  • Confidential Seven Figure Settlement for Junior ROTC Member Due to Negligence of Truck Driver, City and Utility. VA had just turned 16. She was a Junior ROTC student due to begin a military career after her high school graduation. Early one morning, while on her way to school to raise the flag, she was struck by a truck as she crossed the street, suffering a traumatic brain injury among a host of debilitating physical injuries. It was before sunrise and the truck driver contended that he did not see her. Following an extensive investigation, which included repeatedly staking out the crosswalk for months, we were able to determine that there was a recurrent problem with the entire street light circuit causing the lights to cycle off simultaneously, thus rendering the crosswalk dangerously dark. It was also discovered that this had been an issue that residents and business owners in the area had been complaining about for an inordinate amount of time, though nothing was done to fix it. We determined that there were several parties who shared responsibility, including the private street light maintenance company, the county and the trucking company. We were ultimately successful in reaching a confidential settlement, which gave our client the financial wherewithal to provide security and care for her future.

Justice for Kids protects children who die in hot vans, who drown or are catastrophically abused and injured at Day Care.

  • Confidential Settlement Reached in Death of Infant at Day Care Facility. After picking up a two-year-old child one summer morning, the Broward County childcare center he was entrusted to failed to conduct head counts and take attendance as children were entering the facility. Had they taken attendance and compared it to the transportation logs, as they are mandated by the state to do, the childcare center would have rapidly discovered that NS was still on the van. For more than five hours, no one noticed that he was unaccounted for and missing. It was not until someone picked up his backpack that they realized he wasn’t there. NS was found inside the van. Tragically, he did not survive. Entrusted with the most vulnerable, childcare facilities are governed by state mandated standards to ensure the protection of our children and when they fail, they must be held accountable. We were able to reach a confidential settlement prior to initiating litigation.

Too many children are left in the custody of their natural parents or foster parents after the Florida Department of Children & Families, Sheriff’s Department, and Private Providers have ignored red flags. In 2014, The Miami Herald published an investigative series call “Innocents Lost” concerning 534 children who died spanning several years – who didn’t need to perish. We, at Justice for Kids, are committed to filing wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the survivors’ parents who are innocent of wrong-doing and even siblings, where possible, to vindicate the voice of the children who died.

  • Foster Child Livestreams Suicide on Facebook. Child abuse attorneys Howard Talenfeld and Stacie Schmerling represented the estate of a 14-year-old foster child who died by suicide while live streaming on Facebook from her foster parent’s bathroom. The lawsuit, filed in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County, FL, brought claims against Florida Department of Children and Families, private child welfare agencies, and foster parents for operating a system of care with no therapeutic placements and a lack of services, and for failing to protect the child from abuse, neglect, and mental health deterioration while in foster care. Read more from the Miami New Times here
  • Case Involving Abuse and Drowning. In 2003, one-year-old Latiana Hamilton was drowned in a bathtub, and her three-year-old brother was horribly abused by foster mother Lena Cumberbatch with a belt and ironing cord. Justice for Kids attorney Howard Talenfeld was instrumental in filing civil rights complaints for her and her brother, paving the way for many other children to recover for their injuries. Substantial recoveries were made on behalf of these children. Ray v. Foltz, 370 F.3rd1079 (11 Cir. 2004) Read more from the Ledgerwww.scholar.google.com/www.scholar.google.com/
  • Lawsuit Against Private Child Welfare Providers and Individual Employees For Allowing Child’s Mental Health to Deteriorate. This lawsuit was filed in the Middle District of Florida against private child welfare providers and individual employees on behalf of the estate of a seventeen-year-old foster child who died while she was on runaway. The suit brought wrongful death and survival claims under state law causes of action and civil rights violations alleging the defendants allowed the child’s mental health to deteriorate while in foster care and encouraged her to run away.  The case resolved for an undisclosed amount.  Smith v. Beasley, 775 F. Supp. 2d 1344 (M.D. Fla. 2011)
  • Case Involving Negligent Investigation and Failure To Protect Children From Foreseeable Abuse and Neglect. This lawsuit was filed in Lake County, FL against DCF and private community-based child welfare providers for negligent investigation and failure to protect two young children from foreseeable abuse and neglect in the care of their mother and her paramour. Despite the high-risk factors present due to unexplained injuries to both children, the family was placed under Voluntary Protective Supervision with no court oversight.  The family relocated from Osceola County to Lake County, FL and the case was closed without court intervention despite the significant risk to the children.  Four months later, the boy, who was sixteen months old, died from abuse and was found to have numerous fractures in various stages of healing and a skull fracture. The girl, who was two years old, witnessed her brother’s murder and was also found to have several fractures and other injuries. The case resolved against DCF for sovereign immunity limits of $200,000 and for an undisclosed amount as to the private agencies.
  • Teenage Child Who Was Drug Addicted Entrusted to a Miami Treatment Facility For Care and Treatment. Tragically, the child overdosed in the facility from drugs that he obtained because of lax and negligent safeguards from preventing children from bringing illegal drugs into the facility. Our investigator was able to interview and obtain statements from several children who previously were in treatment at the facility who would testify how the drugs were obtained.

Drownings and Near Drownings in swimming pools, lakes and other bodies of water is a leading cause of death in Florida. http://www.flcadr.com/ When the negligence of parents, hotels, other facilities and foster parents causes permanent injuries and death.

  • Foster Child Brain-Damaged After Near-Drowning in Swimming Pool. Howard Talenfeld, on behalf of representatives for A.S., a two-year-old foster child left brain-damaged after a near-drowning in a swimming pool, brought suit in Pinellas County, FL, against the Department of Children and Families, and private care providers Help a Child Inc. and Family Continuity Program, Inc. A.S. was born in 2000, but in January 2001, an abuse report was phoned into DCF’s Abuse Hotline for medical neglect that she was born with respiratory and heart defects and her mother was not providing the treatment she needed. DCF placed A.S. in shelter care and later adjudicated her dependent. In February 2001, A.S. was placed in the foster home where, because she was unsupervised, she nearly drowned in a swimming pool. At the time of the near-drowning incident, DCF was planning to seek termination of the parental rights of A.S.’s natural parents, which would have enabled her to be placed for adoption. As a result of the near-drowning incident, Justice for Kids attorney Howard Talenfeld filed a negligence action against DCF, the foster parents, Help A Child, Inc., and Family Continuity programs. This case settled for an undisclosed amount, but A.S. has defied all odds, and 18 years later is alive at KIDZ KORNER, a pediatric nursing facility in Broward County, FL. Although her special needs trust remains intact, because Medicaid benefits will be significantly reduced on her 21st birthday, in April 2020, Justice for Kids began seeking a claims bill pro bono to ensure that her trust is replenished.

Far too frequently, foster children are placed with foster or adoptive parents who abuse these children far more seriously than they were neglected or abused by their natural parents. When these children need help, attorneys at Justice for Kids will protect them and seek damages on their behalf.

  • Firm Sues Florida Dept. of Children & Families, Settles Negligence Case for $14.26 Million. Child abuse attorney Howard Talenfeld filed a civil rights complaint in federal court on behalf of 19 children against nine Florida Department of Children and Families employees who were responsible for the children’s adoption and/or investigations of the abuse allegations. The children were allowed to be adopted and lived in various locations with her between Orlando and Gainesville, FL even though there had been a prior verified abuse report against the mother. The children were victims of bizarre punishments and beatings throughout their childhood. The State of Florida settled all of the Plaintiffs’ claims, including a negligence claim in Alachua County against DCF, for a total of $14.26 million. Read the case here
  • Civil Rights Win Brings Sexually Assaulted & Neglected Siblings $5 Million Settlement. Child abuse attorney Howard Talenfeld prevailed in this precedent-setting federal civil rights claim brought by six siblings (collectively called “John Roes” to protect the minors’ identities) who were egregiously physically, sexually and emotionally abused and neglected in a foster / adoptive home in Broward County, Florida.
  • Watch Howard discuss the case on 20/20
  • Law Firm for Eight Abused Former Foster Care Children Settles With NYC, Child Care Agencies for $26 Million. Eight developmentally foster care children who were placed in what one judge called a “house of horrors” foster home have settled with New York state adoption and child welfare agencies and their state-contracted providers for $17.5 million. The settlement brings the total paid by the defendants to more than $26 million. The 2014 New York settlement follows a $9.7 million settlement in 2013 for two of the plaintiffs in what became known as the Leekin case. It was so named for Judith Leekin, the New York foster mother who took on 22 foster kids and pocketed $1.68 million in adoption subsidies. She went on to live a lavish lifestyle while keeping the kids locked up, underfed and uneducated. Leekin is serving a lengthy prison sentence. “This was a horrifying case of failed oversight by state agencies and their providers contracted to protect the needs of society’s most vulnerable,” said Howard Talenfeld, the foster care, child abuse and disabled persons attorney who represented the plaintiffs. “Although the settlement cannot replace the family these kids, who now are adults, should have had,” he continued, “the money from the settlement will ensure the plaintiffs have a safety net protecting them for the rest of their lives .” The case stems as far back as the 1980s, when Leekin systematically took what eventually were 22 foster children into her New York home. She created at least four fictitious identities to adopt the disabled children. Leekin imprisoned the kids, some of whom were profoundly mentally disabled in cages or with handcuffs and zip-ties. She physically abused, threatened and starved them and denied them any outside interaction, education or even medical care. When Leekin sensed New York officials were on to her in 1998, she moved to Florida with 10 of the children. Her fraud was discovered in 2007 when she reportedly tried to abandon an 18-year-old foster child at a local Publix Super Market. Attorneys for the children fought a long and arduous federal court battle. They claimed that officials in New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and its contracted care providers failed to properly screen Leekin and uncover her rouse. Through the case, plaintiffs’ attorneys overcame unfavorable court rulings. In the end, the plaintiffs prevailed in the legal system, but they still suffer medical and behavioral issues. All require expensive, long-term educational, medical, psychological, and sociological care and treatment. “As children, they suffered the most horrific abuse and neglect that have followed them into adulthood. They have no life skills and need assistance with the most basic care,” Talenfeld said. “This settlement won’t give them their childhood back.”
  • Lawsuit Against Private Community-Based Lead Agency and Subcontractor for Failing to Protect Foster Child From Physical and Emotional Harm in a Group Home. Child abuse attorneys Howard Talenfeld and Stacie Schmerling represented a former foster child in a case in Miami-Dade County, FL against a private community-based lead agency and its subcontractor for failing to protect him from physical and emotional harm in a group home when he was the victim of a “cockfight” encouraged by a group home employee. The dependency judge criticized the Florida Department of Children and Families, its former lead community-based agency in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, and its subcontractors for operating a system of care which “deprives children and families of needed services” and “allows for lack of accountability, with each ‘entity’ pointing the finger at one another when the ball is dropped.” The case resolved for an undisclosed amount. Read more from the Miami Herald.
  • Children Drowned, Abused by Foster Mother. In 2003, one-year-old Latiana Hamilton was drowned in a bathtub, and her three-year-old brother was horribly abused by foster mother Lena Cumberbatch with a belt and ironing cord. Justice for Kids attorney Howard Talenfeld was instrumental in filing civil rights complaints for her and her brother, paving the way for many other children to recover for their injuries. Substantial recoveries were made on behalf of these children. Read more from The Ledger Ray v. Foltz, 370 F.3rd1079 (11 Cir. 2004). www.scholar.goggle.com/www.scholar.google.com/

Tragically, children taken into foster care, shelters and other facilities can be sexually abused by their caretakers or those entrusted to protect them. Because the harm caused by sexual abuse and the traumatization of being removed from home is extraordinary, Justice for Kids attorneys fight to make recoveries that can be placed in trust to provide help for these children throughout their lives.

  • Firm Sues Florida Dept. of Children & Families, Settles Negligence Case for $14.26 Million. Child abuse attorney Howard Talenfeld filed a civil rights complaint in federal court on behalf of 19 children against nine Florida Department of Children and Families employees who were responsible for the children’s adoption and/or investigations of the abuse allegations. The children were allowed to be adopted and lived in various locations with her between Orlando and Gainesville, FL even though there had been a prior verified abuse report against the mother. The children were victims of bizarre punishments and beatings throughout their childhood. The State of Florida settled all of the Plaintiffs’ claims, including a negligence claim in Alachua County against DCF, for a total of $14.26 million. Read the case here
  • Seven-Year-Old Boy Sexually Abused by Foster Parent Recovers Undisclosed Settlement. A 7-year-old boy was sexually abused by his foster father after two Broward County, FL child welfare groups failed to conduct proper background checks on the man. Read more from the Sun-Sentinel.
  • Case Against Private Agency That Owned and Operated an Emergency Shelter For Failure To Protect Child From Sexual Assault By Male Employee. Florida child abuse attorneys resolved a case on behalf of a 16-year-old girl against a private agency that owned and operated an emergency shelter in Palm Beach County, FL for failure to protect the child from sexual assault by a male shelter employee. The case resolved pre-suit for an undisclosed amount. Read more from the Sun-Sentinel. Read more from the Palm Beach Post.
  • Florida Child Abuse Attorneys File Suit in Palm Beach County on Behalf of Foster Child Against Private Child Welfare Providers & Emergency Shelter For Failure To Protect Child From Sexual Abuse and Child-on-Child Sexual Abuse. The case resolved for an undisclosed amount.  One of the defendants did not have the minimum amount of insurance required by statute governing privatization of foster care and related services.  Justice for Kids attorneys then filed suit against that agency’s insurance broker for failure to procure the statutorily required insurance coverage.  That case also resolved for an undisclosed amount.
  • DeJejus -Lawsuit Filed in Broward County Against DCF and Private Community-Based Agencies Located in Polk County and Volusia County on Behalf of a Child Who Had Been Sexually Abused By His Parents and Exposed To Domestic Violence. The child was reunified with his biological parents despite warnings that he was at significant risk of harm.  The father drove the family to Broward County, FL, where he shot a man and held the family hostage. Thisresulted in a SWAT standoff during which time the father stabbed the child, stabbed the child’s non-verbal autistic brother to death, stabbed the mother, and stabbed himself to death. The case resolved against DCF and several private child welfare agencies for undisclosed amounts. Read more below.
  • Two Brothers Placed in Brevard County With a Pedophile Who Was a Known Gambler and Had Multiple Arrests, Convictions & Was Later Permitted to Adopt them. They were sexually victimized by the pedophile. This case settled for an undisclosed amount, which permitted these children to receive the education they need and appropriate services for the remainder of their lives.

Eligible Compensation  

If successful at trial or through settlement negotiations, certain types of compensation may be awarded to you. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s case, you may be eligible for the following types of compensation:

  • Medical expenses, including surgical and hospital bills.
  • Future medical expenses, including future surgery bills and rehabilitation expenses.
  • Pain and suffering, including emotional and post-traumatic stress.
  • Punitive damages, when applicable.

Our Commitment to You 

We understand that nothing is more traumatic than seeing your child suffer due to an accident or injury caused by someone else’s negligence, abuse, or intentional bad action. We are dedicated to obtaining the justice and compensation your child deserves. We understand that every case is unique, and we take the time to fully understand your child’s situation. Our focus is on ensuring your child receives the medical care they need and the compensation they deserve to cover medical expenses, ongoing care, and any pain and suffering caused. We understand that children are not just small adults, and we work with experts in various fields to fully assess the extent of your child’s injuries and the future impact on their life. We are committed to making sure your child receives the best possible outcome, whether through settlement or in court. At Justice for Kids®, we offer compassionate and personalized legal representation for your family.

Contact Justice for Kids® 

It is important to take swift action. Evidence can be lost with delayed response times. Even if you are unsure if you have a case, we strongly encourage you to contact Justice for Kids® as soon as possible. If your child has suffered any type of injury or abuse, we want to help you and your family find justice, hold those responsible accountable, and make sure that another child is not harmed in the future.

At Justice for Kids®, we strongly believe that “justice delayed is justice denied”, especially with the life of a child. Litigation can take years, meaning a significant verdict may come too late to help a child in need. While we are trial lawyers, we also understand that the children we represent often have needs that cannot wait for a trial. Before any lawsuit or claim is filed, we provide expertise in seeking immediate care where necessary from skilled medical, mental health, and planning professionals. This can help prevent or minimize immediate or long-term harm from their trauma and possibly improve their prognosis.

At the same time, we are always preparing our cases in anticipation of trial while negotiating with the social service agencies, insurers, and potential defendants to obtain a fair and timely settlement, where possible. Years spent dealing with insurers have taught us that many prefer a timely resolution to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars or more defending claims. Our primary goal is to obtain justice for the children we represent and for them to begin healing as early as possible.

As true advocates for the children we represent, we help them establish life care plans and guide them through the process of creating trusts and other vehicles designed to protect the funds we recover for the damages they have suffered.

Meet Our Attorneys

Howard Talenfeld

Howard Talenfeld

Founder and Lead Partner

Justin Grosz

Justin Grosz

Lead Partner

Stacie J. Schmerling

Stacie J. Schmerling

Lead Partner

Lisa M. Hoffman

Lisa M. Hoffman

Partner

Nicole R. Coniglio

Nicole R. Coniglio

Partner

Julianna B. Walo

Julianna B. Walo

Attorney

Jillian E. Tate

Jillian E. Tate

Attorney

Disclaimer of Attorney-Client Relationship and Liability:

No attorney-client relationship is created simply by sending communication to our firm. Kelley Kronenberg cannot represent you until the firm knows there would not be a conflict of interest, and the firm determines that it is otherwise able to accept the engagement. An attorney-client relationship is created only by communicating directly with a specific lawyer in the firm and that lawyer expressly agreeing that the firm can and will represent you and an engagement agreement is signed by both the client and the firm.

The information presented on this website is offered only as general information. We make no warranties, representations or claims of any kind concerning the information on this website, including without limitation the accuracy, completeness and suitability of this information for any purposes. Under no circumstances shall we be held liable to you or anyone else for any damages claimed as a result of the access or use of any information on this website.

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