Children's Rights Obtains Settlement for Children Seeking to Hold New York City...

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Surviving Children to Receive $415,000 in Settlement.

Children's Rights and Debevoise & Plimpton obtained court approval of the settlement reached in Mark G., et al. v. The City of New York, et al., a suit seeking to hold New York City accountable for its poor child protection services. The suit sought damages against the City for its gross failure to respond appropriately to repeated reports of abuse and neglect suffered by the G. children at the hands of their parents. The brutal abuse suffered by the children culminated in March 1990 when their sibling, Alan G., was beat to death by his parents. Pursuant to the settlement, the surviving children will receive $415,000 to be distributed in periodic payments over the course of their lives.

"We are very pleased with the results in the Mark G. lawsuit," said Marcia Robinson Lowry, Executive Director of Children's Rights. "To our knowledge, this is the first settlement reached in a case that sought to impose liability on the City for harms that occurred prior to children entering custody, and that were the direct result of the City's blatant failure to fulfill its legal obligations to provide child protective services in compliance with accepted standards of professional conduct. We believe that such damage actions can serve as an important device in creating accountability in systems where such harm is often unreported, accepted as business as usual and allowed to continue and to inflict ongoing, avoidable harm on countless numbers of vulnerable children."

Lowry also noted that in the past, it has been extraordinarily difficult to bring damage actions in the New York State courts because state law procedures are extraordinarily cumbersome and time consuming. In addition, the past standards set by the New York courts have made it extremely difficult to hold the City accountable except in cases of the most egregious abuse inflicted on children in custody, where City officials know of the very dangerous circumstances and the likelihood of harm to the child. After surviving a number of challenges to the legal claims in the case, the plaintiffs were prepared to proceed to trial this year, when the City offered a very substantial settlement rather than run the risk of the case going to trial and establishing substantial new legal precedent.

In order to reach this result, Children's Rights had to fully litigate this case in preparation for trial. "We expended a very substantial amount in the active litigation of these cases with an excellent result for the children we represent and with a substantial likely impact on the use of damage actions in New York as another approach to ensure accountability from the child welfare system," said Lowry. "Although money alone can never fully compensate these children for the substantial psychological, emotional, and physical harm they suffered due to the City's failure to timely remove them from their abusive home, we hope that the money will enable them to lead happier and more comfortable lives in the future. We also expect that the successful outcome of this case opens a new way of holding a child welfare system responsible when it fails to protect abused and neglected children, even before they enter state custody.

Children's Rights works throughout the United States in partnership with national and local experts, advocates and government officials to document the needs of children in the care of child welfare systems. Children's Rights helps develop realistic solutions and, where necessary, uses the power of litigation to ensure that reform takes place.
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