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Miami


“There can be no greater revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children”

–  Nelson Mandela

  • Miami Office:

1111 Brickell Ave., Suite 1900
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: 844-4KIDLAW (4543529); 754-888-KIDS (5437)

  • Miami Lakes Office:

15100 NW 67th Avenue, Suite 204
Miami Lakes, FL 33014
Phone: 844-4KIDLAW (4543529); 754-888-KIDS (5437)

Miami-Dade County has been the site of some of the most catastrophic injuries and tragedies for children as well as some of the most significant improvements in Florida. Miami was the situs of the disappearance of Rilya Wilson, a child in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families who disappeared 20 years ago after she was not visited by her child welfare case manager. She has never been found. In 2011, Nubia Barahona was murdered by her adoptive parents and her brother, the Victor, was tortured after caseworkers ignored the clear “red flags” of abuse. In January 2017, Miami was also where Naika Venant died by suicide on her Facebook live feed while in the care and custody of Our Kids of Miami Dade and Center for Family and Child Enrichment. Neither agency could find an appropriate

therapeutic placement for her, resulting in 17 placements in less than a year. The attorneys for Justice for Kids have fought for systemic improvements as a result of these most horrific tragedies. On the other hand, Miami Dade has made promising improvements to its child protection system with the creation of a special taxing district to benefit children of the Children’s Trust and the Florida Department of Children and Families’ decision in 2020 to hire Citrus Family Care Network, a lead agency with expertise in mental health treatment. The attorneys at Justice for Kids have handled some of the most significant cases in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys.

Cases

  • Lawsuit For Failure To Protect Foster Child From Child-on-Child Sexual Abuse in Shelter & Failure To Protect Him From Abuse, Neglect By Foster Parent. The lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County, FL on behalf of a former foster child against private community-based child welfare providers and emergency shelter for failure to protect the then 3-year-old child from child-on-child sexual abuse in the shelter and failure to protect him from abuse and neglect by his subsequent foster parent. The case resolved for an undisclosed amount.
  • Attorneys Settle Case for Trafficked Child Against Child Welfare Agencies for Undisclosed Sum. Florida child abuse attorneys represented a former foster child in a federal lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Florida against community-based child welfare agencies and emergency shelter for failure to protect the then 17-year-old foster child from being sold into sex trafficking in 2012 and then being held captive in a Fort Lauderdale hotel. The case resolved for an undisclosed amount as to the child welfare agencies responsible for failing to provide her an appropriate placement and for placing her into the custody of the traffickers. The claim is pending as to the hotel that turned a blind eye to her abuse and profited in the meantime. Read more below.
  • Lawsuit For Failing To Protect Foster Child From Physical, Emotional Harm In 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 the child 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 below.
  • Foster Child Livestreams Suicide of 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 the Florida Department of Children and Families, private child welfare agencies, and the 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
  • South Florida Jet Ski Tragedy Settles Confidentially AD was tragically killed while riding a jet ski on a lake in Miami. He was only 15 years old. Justin Grosz, through 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, over 15 years earlier. An Australian pine tree, over 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 over 50 feet into the navigable part of the waterway. When the tide was low, the tree was exposed and visible but 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, the 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.
  • Teenage Child Who Was Drug Addicted Entrusted To Miami Treatment Facility For Care and Treatment. Tragically, he overdosed in the facility from drugs that he obtained because of lax and negligent safeguards that did not prevent 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.
  • Lawsuit Alleging Excessive Force, Violation of Civil Rights. A Miami child who was arrested and suffered permanent injury to his knee from a Miami-Dade Police officer filed a lawsuit alleging excessive force and a violation of his civil rights. After the federal judge determined that the city’s use of force regulation was unconstitutionally applied, the jury awarded a substantial judgment and the judge awarded attorneys’ fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
  • Autistic Child Over-Prescribed Psychotropic Medications, Died. An Autistic child’s family received an undisclosed settlement amount from a Miami-Dade, FL group home and psychiatrist who over-prescribed psychotropic medications resulting in the death of the child.
  • 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 alleging a violation of 42 USC § 1983 against private child welfare agencies in Miami-Dade County, and its 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)
  • Confidential Settlement For Female Student-Athlete In Hazing Incident. Our client was a standout high school soccer player who was recruited to play in college. During her freshman year, while still a minor, she was assaulted and traumatized in a hazing incident as part of a school-sanctioned athletic program. The incident derailed her collegiate career and drove her to withdraw from school. Given our client’s age, it became imperative to move swiftly in an effort to help keep her on track academically. We were fortunate enough to persuade the school into resolving the matter, without protracted litigation, for a confidential amount that has afforded our client with the opportunity to relocate, enroll in another university and re-chart her path.

Other Florida Locations Served:

Fort Lauderdale Child Abuse Law Firm

Jacksonville Child Abuse Law Firm

Orlando Child Abuse Law Firm

Tampa Child Abuse Law Firm

West Palm Child Abuse Law Firm

Daytona Child Abuse Law Firm

Tallahassee Child Abuse Law Firm

Naples Child Abuse Law Firm

 

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