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Mental Health and Drug Injuries


Children who are entrusted to the care of mental health facilities, drug treatment facilities and mental health practitioners are far too often the victim of their negligence.

  • A Teenage Child Who Was Drug Addicted Was Entrusted to a Miami Treatment Facility for Care and Treatment. Tragically, he overdosed in the facility from drugs that he obtained because of lax and negligent safeguards which should have prevented 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.
  • Civil Rights Lawsuit Using 42 USC § 1983. This civil rights lawsuit was a claim by a foster child pursuant to 42 USC § 1983 and for negligence against various Florida Department of Children & Family employees and a private mental health crisis stabilization unit for violating the due process rights of a foster child who was confined for almost one year in a crisis stabilization unit because there were no appropriate placements for discharge. The Plaintiff settled this lawsuit against the private agency for an undisclosed amount and the DCF employees for $1.6 million.
  • Foster Child Livestreams Suicide on Facebook. Child abuse attorneys Howard Talenfeld and Stacie Schmerling represent 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 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
  • Case Involving Agency That Owned and Operated Therapeutic Group Home. This lawsuit was filed in Orange County, FL on behalf of a former foster child in Jacksonville, FL against an agency that owned and operated a therapeutic group home for failure to protect the then 13-year-old from multiple incidents of child-on-child sexual abuse by a 17-year old known sexual predator living in the same group home. The case resolved for an undisclosed amount.
  • Therapist Failed to Protect Foster Child Displaying Signs of Sexual Abuse. A Broward County, FL foster child was placed in a specialized foster care placement where he displayed the classic signs of sexual abuse. His treating therapist, who was unlicensed, failed to detect them. The parties entered into a confidential settlement.
  • Developmentally and Physically Disabled Foster Child Subjected to Abuse and Neglect in Foster Care in Florida Before Being Placed With Relatives in New York. Over a sixteen year period, DCF and its private contracted community based providers in Miami-Dade County, FL failed to have the child appropriately assessed, failed to provide an increased foster care board rate despite the child’s significant needs, failed to ensure the child received services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and put financial incentives of management ahead of helping foster children. The case was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida against DCF, private child welfare agencies in Miami-Dade County, and individual employees. The case resolved for undisclosed amounts. Woodburn v. Department of Children and Family Services, et al., 854 F. Supp. 2d 1184 (S.D. Fla. 2011); Woodburn v. Department of Children and Family Services, et al., 859 F. Supp. 2d 1305 (S.D. Fla. 2012).

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