The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has been accused of ignoring repeated signs of abuse and neglect in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estate of a young boy who was beaten to death in 2019. A man who was living with the boy and his mother at the time has been charged with child abuse resulting in death in connection with the killing. When medical examiners performed an autopsy on the boy, they discovered injuries that suggested he had suffered years of mistreatment.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit, CYFD was told on three occasions that the boy was being abused before he reached his first birthday. The lawsuit says the agency was alerted to abuse by relatives and medical professionals at least 10 times during his short life. When investigators were sent out to check on the boy, they sometimes found him hiding under a staircase cowering in fear. When investigators asked the boy about his injuries, he told them that his mother’s boyfriend had struck him.
Despite what the lawsuit describes as clear evidence of mistreatment, CYFD decided not to take the boy into care. Instead, they placed him with relatives and asked his mother to improve her parenting skills and follow a safety plan. The mother ignored this advice and simply visited her relatives to pick the boy up. Two months before the boy died, he was rushed to an emergency room with injures to his torso and genitals. He told investigators that his mother’s boyfriend was touching him inappropriately. In addition to seeking monetary damages, the lawsuit is calling for CYFD to implement rigorous policies and procedures and provide its investigators with more effective training.
Lawsuits like this one are based on the civil law tort of negligence. If you decide to pursue this kind of litigation, an experienced personal injury attorney could study the facts to determine if the party responsible owed you a duty of care and then failed to meet that duty. An attorney could then argue that you should be awarded damages because this negligent behavior was the direct cause of your loss.