Mother Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Hennepin County Human Services

The mother of a six-year-old girl who died in the custody of Hennepin County Human Services recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several defendants, alleging several child protective service agencies were negligent in their supervision and care of the girl. The child was found dead in her room, hanging from a jump rope attached to her bunk bed in December 2014.

The Case

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, alleges Hennepin County knew the foster mother had been abusive to children under her care in the past but allowed her to continue to take in children because enough time had passed from a previous documented incident. The abuse dated back to December 2000 but the county’s Department of Human Services granted the foster care mother’s October 2011 request for reinstatement.

The case began in March 2014 when Hennepin County DHS forcefully removed the child from her biological mother’s care and placed her in a foster home. In the months leading up to the girl’s apparent suicide, the plaintiff alleges the victim displayed suicidal behavior, which should have been properly responded to with psychological treatment.

Unfortunately, the life-saving treatment the girl required was never provided and she eventually acted on her suicidal thoughts when she hung herself from her bunk bed. At least one social worker attached to the victim’s case questioned whether the child was placed in the proper foster care environment.

Records indicate the social worker “had severe concerns about (Johnson’s) routine, supervision plan and what Nawaqavou does to ‘keep children safe that present with higher needs.” The defendants named in the suit include Hennepin County child protection workers, Family Alternatives Inc., and Lifespan of Minnesota. They are all accused of failing to adequately supervise the child prior to her passing.

We are here to help

When someone passes away while under the care and supervision of another, it could be because the caretaker was negligent in their duties. The law holds that individuals who owe a standard of care to another must take reasonable steps to prevent undue harm from befalling that individual.

Compensation may be available to the surviving family members of wrongful death victims. To hold the wrongdoer responsible for your loved one’s passing, contact our office, by calling 888-596-6049, and speak to a Minnesota wrongful death lawyer. Novitzke, Gust, Sempf, Whitley & Bergmanis serves clients throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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