from FB: UK Supreme Court rules foster children can sue for sexual and physical abuse–no excuses; local authorities do have a duty to keep kids safe from abuse

here is the decision:

Click to access uksc-2016-0004-judgment.pdf

here is the press release:

 

18 October 2017
PRESS SUMMARY
Armes (Appellant) v Nottinghamshire County Council (Respondent) [2017] UKSC 60
On appeal from [2015] EWCA Civ 1139
JUSTICES: Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes
BACKGROUND TO THE APPEAL
The appellant was in the care of the respondent local authority from the ages of seven to eighteen. The local authority placed her into foster care with Mr and Mrs A between March 1985 and March 1986, and with Mr and Mrs B between October 1987 and February 1988. She was physically and emotionally abused by Mrs A, and sexually abused by Mr B.
The case proceeded on the basis that the local authority were not negligent in the selection or supervision of the foster parents, but that they were nevertheless liable for the abuse perpetrated by her foster carers.
She claimed that the local authority were liable for the abuse, either on the basis that they were in breach of a non-delegable duty, or on the basis that they were vicariously liable for the wrongdoing of the foster parents. Her claim was dismissed by the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
JUDGMENT
The Supreme Court allows the appeal by a majority of 4-1, finding the local authority vicariously liable for the abuse committed by the foster parents, but rejecting the argument that the local authority were liable on the basis of a non-delegable duty. Lord Reed gives the lead judgment, with which Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Clarke agree. Lord Hughes gives a dissenting judgment.
REASONS FOR THE JUDGMENT
References in square brackets are to paragraphs in the judgment
Non-delegable duty of care
A local authority are not under a non-delegable duty to ensure that reasonable care is taken for the safety of children in care while they are in the care and control of foster parents. Such a proposition is too broad, and fixes local authorities with too demanding a responsibility [49]. The following reasons are given:
• The Child Care Act 1980 (“the 1980 Act”) permits a local authority to arrange for children in care to spend time staying with their parents or grandparents, or other relatives or friends.
Imposing a strict liability on local authorities for the lack of care of those relatives or friends would risk creating a conflict between the local authority’s duty, under section 18(1) of the 1980 Act, to give first consideration to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, and their interests in avoiding exposure to such liability. It would also risk creating a form of state insurance in situations where the local authority place the child with the child’s own parents [45].
• The 1980 Act required the local authority to “discharge” the duty to provide accommodation and maintenance for a child, including by placing the child with foster parents. This implies that, although the local authority have numerous duties towards the child, their duty is not to provide the child with day to day care, but rather to arrange for, and monitor, the performance of that function by the foster parents [46-47].
• The Secretary of State makes regulations under section 22 of the 1980 Act imposing duties on local authorities in relation to the boarding out of children. The implication of section 22 is that the local authority’s continuing responsibility for the child is discharged by boarding-out the child in accordance with those regulations, including by prior approval of the household, and subsequent inspection, supervision and removal. The statutory regime does not impose any responsibility for the day to day care of the child [48].
Vicarious liability
Applying the principles set out in Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016] UKSC 10 on the imposition of vicarious liability, the local authority are vicariously liable for the acts of the foster parents in the present case for the following reasons:
• Integration and business activity: The local authority carried out the recruitment, selection and training of foster parents, paid their expenses, and supervised the fostering. In those circumstances, the foster parents were not carrying on an independent business of their own, and it is impossible to draw a sharp distinction between the activity of the local authority and that of the foster parents. Thus the abuse committed by the foster parents against the claimant was committed by the foster parents in the course of an activity carried on for the benefit of the local authority [59-60].
• Creation of risk: The placement of children with foster parents creates a relationship of authority and trust between the foster parents and children in circumstances where close control cannot be exercised by the local authority. This renders the children particularly vulnerable to abuse [61].
• Control: The local authority exercised a significant degree of control over the foster parents: it exercised powers of approval, inspection, supervision and removal [62]. Micro-management, or a high degree of control, are not necessary for the imposition of vicarious liability [65].
• Ability to pay damages: Most foster parents have insufficient means to meet a substantial award of damages, whilst local authorities can more easily compensate the victims of abuse [63].
• There was no evidence to suggest that imposing vicarious liability would discourage local authorities from placing children in care with foster parents, and encourage them instead to place them in residential homes, at much greater cost. [68].
In response to the concerns raised by Lord Hughes: (1) The approach adopted would not have resulted in the imposition of vicarious liability if the appellant had been placed with her own parents. (2) This decision is concerned only with the legislation and practice that was in force at the relevant time, not with the current regime. (3) The courts’ care not to impose unduly exacting standards in the context of
family life applies equally to life in foster families [71-73].
Lord Hughes gives a dissenting judgment on the vicarious liability issue. He considers that the majority’s approach would extend vicarious liability to family and friend placements under the current statutory regime, and consequently inhibit local authorities’ practice of making such placements. Finally, he considers that it may result in undesirable litigation of family activity in the courts [87-90].
NOTE
This summary is provided to assist in understanding the Court’s decision. It does not form part of the reasons for the decision. The full judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document. Judgments are public documents and are available at:
http://supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/index.html

 

 

 

 

From KD: Media blackout on Esformes Case $1 Billion hidden from the public in health care fraud.

It is interesting to see the almost total media blackout on the case of the Century.    Philip Esformes was being tried in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) for stealing a billion dollars in Medicare funds.   (Yes – 9 zeroes! one thousand million dollars).
The case is a smorgasbord as to steal a billion dollars Philip had to have alliances with the POLITICAL ELITE, the Judicial elite, and every corruptible segment of society.   Indeed, the Esformes empire included nursing homes in Florida, Illinois, Missouri etc and corruption that was almost unbelievable.
Previously in the Alice Gore case and others we noted the relationship between GUARDIANSHIP and the HUMAN TRAFFICKING in the Elderly, but, in this criminal proceeding an opportunity was presented for exposing all the felonies of ELDER CLEANSING and the entire corruption required to foster the criminal enterprise.
Here in Illinois ‘guardianship’ is a key element in the Elder Cleansing – human trafficking in the elderly movement.   755 ILCS 5/11a – 3 sets the criteria and 755 ILCS 5/11a – 10 sets the jurisdictional limitations and procedure.   The Mary Sykes case 09 P 4585 on its face demonstrates the corruption of the system.    For instance, in every lawsuit the matter starts with the service of summons.   The Sheriff has denied summons being served.   The statute requires the summons to be unique and specifies how it is unique.   The clerks’ office was not distributing such a summons, and the file indicates that not only was such a summons not tendered to the sheriff to serve, but the petitioner seeking to be appointed guardian made certain that Mary was not served – she attempted to serve summons at an address she knew Mary did not reside at.
The Petitioner knew, because she had Mary isolated in her (the Petitioner’s) home.   The Judge was also aware of this corruption – she appointed a 2nd GAL because GAL number 1 did not want to go out to DuPage County to interview Mary.   There are other substantial corruptions connoted such as the fact that the Judge never held a hearing required by 755 ILCS 5/11a – 3, or the Fifth and 14th Amendment and thus there was no prior notice to the next of Kin (also required by statute and jurisdictional).    (It was believed that the Esformes machine was also involved in this case).
The blogs AAAPG (Dr. Sam Sugar), NASGA, Probate Sharks, and MaryGSykes all detail the scandal.    The New Yorker, the NY Times and even the Wall Street Journal have detailed this horrific amorality and scandal, BUT in a manner characterized as benign neglect and reasonably calculated to not disturb the status quo.
A docket entry appears to indicate that Mr. Esformes is changing his plea and the case is terminating.   If Mr. Esformes is going to co-operate with the United States of America it would behoove the 2nd oldest profession to lead in the HONEST INVESTIGATION and give meaning to the oath that every lawyer takes as a condition to be admitted to the bar.
Currently,  the public is aware that when Lawyer JoAnne Denison disclosed the corruption that is essential to ELDER CLEANSING and the human trafficking in the elderly, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission sought an emergency suspension of her law license.   The IARDC characterized the disclosure of corruption on the bench to be akin to “yelling fire in a crowded theater.”   The Illinois Supreme Court infamously agreed.    Of course there was no hue and cry from the profession!
However, a second chance is being made available.   The profession can accept its position of benign neglect of its oath and responsibility or it can redeem itself.    The first act, in my opinion, would be to broadcast the revelations of this trial to the profession so that IT can ferret out HEALTH CARE FELONIES and those who are robbing our government.
NB.  I do not expect much from the Political elite – but, as we all get old and infirm – and thus potential victims – we have personal interests to consider.    An Esformes co-conspirator made it clear – the miscreants consider us to be a commodity!

Ken Ditkowsky

From KD: $1 Billion health care fraud scheme ends today with plea deal

I have no idea why major news media isn’t covering this story,  but you all know from my blog and FB page that Ken Ditkowsky and I have been following the Philip Esformes Trial.

Apparently, he has made a plea deal to a life sentence and to refund $1 Billion to Medicare/Medicaid.

Others were involved in this scheme and entered into plea deals.

Phillip Esformes and his family and friends operated nursing homes in the Mimi Dade area and over billed, double billed, submitted false and fraudulent bills.

The Larkin Hospital was involved, but I don’t know if the owner/operators are related to Jerome Larkin, head of the ARDC, which would explain a whole lot of why Jerome Larkin (together with Melissa Smart and Sharon Opryszek) went after me and Ken for publishing about the Mary Sykes case (a woman stripped of all her assets, forced into a nursing home and who was murdered in the end, with food and water being withdrawn while under heavy sedation).

It probably all does tie together, but the FBI/DOJ has this information and they’re not sharing.

Also, Phillip and Morris Esformes ran these fraudulent operations in Chicago and in many other areas, so don’t feel sorry PE was charged with $1 B in fraud and had to pay $1 B in fraud, because this case was only about one limited area for about 5 years.  News articles indicate this has been going on for decades in numerous areas by the Esformes fraud friends and family program.

here is one article on the trial:

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article225176275.html

here is another case on how dirty Esformes fraud money was laundered to getting some dumb kid into an Ivy League school (not surprised)

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article219602620.html

(aren’t we tired of stupid kids getting a mass money fraud pass into Ivy League schools?)

Here is yet another article describing how patients were discharged from Larkin hospital in Miami, shuffled off to nursing home and assisted living for bribes (often described as escort services or charitable donations), and then never received the care they needed, but of course Medicare/Medicaid was billed for it.

https://www.mcknights.com/news/former-hospital-director-physicians-assistant-plead-guilty-in-1-billion-esformes-fraud-scheme/

I understand that numerous others have pled in this $1 Billion Esformes scandal.  The worst part about all of this is that it victimized the elderly and disabled, the most vulnerable of US citizens–and they were either denied services they desperately needed, or they received services they did not need, including false amputations for diabetes they never had and heart procedures when they had no heart disease, etc.

I am most gratefule that the DOJ/FBI and HHS is cleaning up this mess.

This is the major and no. 1 reason why we don’t have Universal Health Care–it’s because of this type of massive fraud.

The FBI/DOJ – HHS fraud team recovers $8 for every $1 spent on prosecutions. This needs to be expanded.  Clearly health care payments via Medicare and Medicaid need a whole lot more oversight.

Videos actually exist on youtube explaining how one person can easily bilk the US govt for fake Medicare/Medicaid claims of $1 to $2 million in a month or two and the leave the US without a trace.  (No, I will not publish the URLs to these videos, they’re shameful but a good example of what is going on in US healthcare today).

Here is yet another article on the schemes:

https://www.mahanyertl.com/2019/esformes-medicare-fraud-whistleblower/

you can google Esforme and trial or plea deal or a number of phrases to find mostly micro media and blogs on this issue, but the real question is why is the mega media silent on $1 Billion + in fraud?

from FB: Judges illegal remove kids from parents in KY by providing pre signed order forms to DCFS workers!

I am really glad someone found this out.  This is completely unacceptable in this day and age that children can be removed from parents 1) without a truthful affidavit from a DCFS worker that has fully investigated the situation; 2) with a  judge reviewing the affidavit (judges are highly paid and CAN work weekends) and 3) without at least Skyping the parent and an attorney to review the situation immediately

Why are we traumatizing parents and kids with this nonsense.  We have Skype. Those judges could even sit on their butts at home naked and do this work.

This is inexcusable and has to end.

https://www.wdrb.com/in-depth/sunday-edition-kentucky-workers-accused-of-illegally-removing-children-from/article_5b42179c-474f-11e9-b44e-5b1688808fe4.html?fbclid=IwAR3p-09nY-s3R-E4a3R7as1kikVNQjnY1p47sGZSgnmSV3DwgSHs2CoO1ns

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky social workers are failing to have courts properly scrutinize and approve the drastic step of taking some children from their homes, relying instead on blank removal orders with pre-signed judges’ signatures, which is illegal according to several attorneys and judges.

The allegations, which involve cases of purported parental abuse or neglect, have prompted numerous complaints to judges and state officials.

They revolve specifically around the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services workers using pre-signed emergency custody court orders to remove children on weekends and after the courthouse has closed for the day.

While there is debate over whether the actions violate Kentucky law, state and local officials acknowledged to WDRB News that the practices aren’t ideal – and, on Friday, the cabinet abolished them. Workers now must send an order to the judge to see and electronically sign.

Previously, copies of the blank orders with signatures from Jefferson District Court judges were left at the Home of the Innocents on Market Street and filled in by cabinet workers – giving them the power to remove children without a judge reviewing the allegations written on the order or filling out other necessary documentation.

“The system that is currently set up allows for the social workers to call an on-call judge on the phone and then fill out the order themselves, a blank order with a judge’s signature on it,” attorney Karen Faulkner said in an interview before the March 15 policy change. “Children are being illegally taken from their home without judges’ proper authority.”

In some cases, attorneys and some judges claim cabinet workers have used blank copies of the pre-signed child removal orders to take kids from their parents, only later filling in the allegations and other items on the order. The judges and attorneys for the parents don’t see the orders until a hearing three days after the child has been removed.

At least one local district judge, Julie Kaelin, said she has refused to follow the practice, saying it is violating the law.

According to state law: “In no event shall a child be removed pursuant to KRS 620.060 only on a verbal order.”

Another district judge questioned the legality of the pre-signed orders and confirmed that “blank orders” with only a photocopied signature have been used to remove children.

“That is a gross miscarriage of justice that should not happen,” said the judge, who asked to remain anonymous because she was not authorized to speak about the issue. “That’s on the cabinet.”

In addition, cabinet workers have allegedly called judges after hours and told them about the need to remove one child from a home, but then used multiple copies of pre-signed emergency custody orders to take more than one juvenile.

Chief Jefferson District Court Judge Anne Haynie acknowledged that she believed this has occurred at least once, saying “a cabinet worker did something they shouldn’t have.”

However, she denied that cabinet workers or judges are violating the law by using the pre-signed orders and phoning on-call judges to get authorization to remove a child.

“Jefferson County judges are in full compliance with the law and full compliance with the rules,” Haynie said. She argues that when the law says no child shall be removed on a “verbal order,” it doesn’t mean a social worker has to talk with a judge in person.

“It just means they have to have some form of an order,” she said. “That’s all verbal means. I know there are some lawyers that believe that means in person, but that does not mean in person.”

High-profile defense attorney Thomas Clay said he is currently consulting with a family that had three children removed from a home – including a 6-year-old and 3-year-old — even though a cabinet worker only mentioned to a judge the need to remove one child.

The cabinet worker allegedly filled out three pre-signed forms to remove all of the children.

“It certainly raises issues of whether the rights of parents are being violated,” Clay said. “One of the most important decisions the system makes is whether to remove children from a parent.”

Cabinet spokesman Doug Hogan said his agency has been following the procedures requested by Jefferson District Court judges, in part to “avoid the necessity of social workers going to judges’ homes to secure their signatures.”

In an email, Hogan said it has been “suggested” that stamps or photocopies of judges’ signatures may be “inadequate” for the emergency custody orders and the system is being changed.

As of March 15, Hogan said, the judges, cabinet and state implemented a new method to allow workers to send an order to the judge to see and electronically sign.

Asked if the cabinet has been breaking the law the way the process has been working, Hogan said “NO” in an email.

Hogan did not respond to a follow-up question about allegations of workers using blank pre-signed orders or taking multiple children without judicial authorization.

Haynie said there are multiple safeguards in place to ensure the process of removing a child after court hours is done correctly.

She said a Home of the Innocents employee is “present with the law enforcement officer and/or cabinet worker” when the call is made to an on-call judge “and most importantly we tape record everything” so attorneys for the parents can go back and listen to what was said and whether there were any issues with what information was presented to the judge.

As for the pre-signed orders themselves, Haynie said while it is not illegal, “it’s probably not the best procedure and we are looking at it.”

‘Signatures should be sacred’

Some judges and attorneys have compared the practice to a police officer filling out a search warrant that had been pre-signed by a judge.

“Police officers can’t sign their own search warrants; they can’t create their own search warrants,” said attorney Sarah Clay, who is appointed to represent parents in abuse and neglect cases. Clay is Thomas’s Clay’s niece. “A judge has to approve it. And a judge reads the affidavit and reads the search warrant before they sign it.”

Clay said judges are required to review the cabinet worker’s affidavit and make several specific findings and check boxes on the form before signing an order to remove a child, including finding there is an immediate danger, that reasonable efforts have been made to not remove the child, and there is no less restrictive alternative, given how traumatic removal is.

But the on-call district judges are often only hearing a brief synopsis of the issue before approving the order.

“The judge whose signature is on the order has never seen the order,” said Sarah Clay. “Our concern, which we have reason to believe has occurred, is that workers can take the blank signed orders … and just fill it out to say whatever they want.”

Former judge and current Pike County Attorney Howard Keith Hall agrees with the comparison of a police officer using a pre-signed search warrant.

In 1994, when Hall was a Pike County District Court judge, he was publicly reprimanded by the state Judicial Retirement and Removal Commission for pre-signing a warrant for a sheriff’s deputy.

Hall had talked to the deputy on the phone while driving to Lexington and approved the warrant, leaving behind a pre-signed order.

The commission ruled that even though Hall knew the details of the search warrant, allowing the use of a pre-signed order violated state Supreme Court rules. Hall was charged with judicial misconduct and the commission would have suspended him for 30 days had he not retired, according to the order.

The order said Hall violated a “grave judicial duty under the (Constitution) requiring the intervention of a neutral judge to protect individuals and to prevent law enforcement officers from conducting unlawful searches.”

When told of the situation with the cabinet and judges in Louisville, Hall said it was the same sort of issue.

“You don’t sign your damn name until something is completely filled out,” he said. “Those signatures should be sacred. I learned that the hard way.”

Haynie, however, said the comparison with law enforcement search warrants is flawed. She again pointed out that the calls between social workers and the on-call judges are recorded.

“We built in a safeguard,” she said of the recordings. “You can pull the tape, listen to exactly what the judge was told, listen to which children were involved, how many, where, etc.”

Attorney Faulkner said that recording phone calls is a good practice, but appointed attorneys for parents in family court don’t get to see the orders until there is a hearing three days later, and by then children already may have suffered traumatic damage.

“There are rules, and there are rules for a reason,” she said. “My belief is the rules require a social worker go talk to a judge in person.”

Family Court issue

Another concern is that district court judges are not familiar with the process of removing kids and don’t have the necessary expertise, as it is a family court issue.

To remove a child during the day, a cabinet appears in front of a family court judge and swears to tell the truth. The judge then reviews the written affidavit of the worker that spells out the alleged abuse and reason for removal of a child or multiple kids and signs the orders if the request for removal is granted.

If removal is ordered, the judge checks through a series of boxes indicating reasonable efforts were made to prevent the child’s removal, the child is in imminent danger and other necessary questions.

But after the court closes at 4:30 and on weekends, the responsibility to approve the emergency orders to remove children falls to an on-call district court judge. Social workers call judges from the Home of the Innocents and, depending on which judge is on call, picks a pre-signed form with that judge’s signature and fills it in.

Asked why family court judges aren’t hearing the cases after hours, Haynie said, “I think that’s a good question. I don’t have an answer for that. That is the question.”

She said district judges don’t typically interact with the cabinet or know the workers like a family court judge.

“We don’t have jurisdiction over these cases, so why are we doing this?” she asked. “They are not issues we ultimately hear. So they are not players or issues or families that we are familiar with.”

Chief Family Court Judge Tara Haggerty did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Charles Gardner Geyh, who teaches judicial conduct at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law said in an interview that while he is unsure of the legality of what has occurred in Louisville, there is certainly a “perception problem” with pre-signed orders.

“There is a perception problem with judges signing off on things and then later confirming them after the fact,” he said. “The concern I have is multiplied if there are aspects to the forms that are supposed to be completed by the judge.

“I think it is a little troubling when the rights of the parents of child are being essentially short circuited.”

From FB: DCFS/CFS workers accused of lying in court- disgusting!

https://projects.statesman.com/news/cps-missed-signs/wrongdoing.html?fbclid=IwAR03I5VWvrn0Fsfm_lQXeUprBS9KQS3rNtGfAcqA3sCT4xAI89c-kN_kbCk

professional licensed case workers abuse your kids, remove them for no reason and then claim “absolute immunity” or “limited immunity” this this has to end.!

Dozens of CPS caseworkers caught lying, falsifying documents

Misconduct cases, while rare, indicative of intense workloads and pressure to close cases

  •  CPS officials say such violations are rare, but they have no way to track them. 
  •  Wrongdoing can stem from intense pressure to close cases quickly. 
  •  CPS discipline for misconduct can be inconsistent. 

By Andrea Ball and Eric Dexheimer / Published January 13, 2015

Houston CPS worker Michelle Robinson testifies during her trial at the Harris County Courthouse in October. Robinson was convicted of falsifying records, sentenced to a year probation and ordered to pay a $300 fine.Dave Rossman / For American-Statesman

When Child Protective Services received a complaint that a Harris County father had choked his teenage daughter, caseworker Michelle Robinson said she hurried to the house, conducted a thorough investigation, determined there was no merit to the allegations and closed the case.

Except she didn’t. In October, a Harris County jury convicted Robinson for falsifying CPS records, concluding that she’d lied when she said she’d interviewed key sources in the case and that she left the young girl in danger. Robinson was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $300 fine.

It wasn’t an isolated case. Since 2009, at least 50 CPS workers have been caught lying to prosecutors, ignoring court orders, falsifying state records or obstructing law enforcement investigations, according to an American-Statesman review of state and court documents.

At least four former CPS employees are currently facing criminal charges for their alleged misconduct.

State officials insist those cases are rare. The employees accused of misconduct found by the Statesman represent a fraction of the 3,400 investigators and foster care workers in the agency.

But the agency cannot definitively say how often it happens since it does not comprehensively track the number of people who were fired for such offenses. It also doesn’t count the number of CPS employees who were punished, but not fired, for such misconduct, because that information is stored only in employees’ personnel files, said Patrick Crimmins, spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Officials do have some sense of the scope of the problem because they receive reports of violations that have been confirmed by the Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General, the commission’s in-house watchdog. But those numbers don’t include misconduct that CPS handles internally.

Through a series of open records requests, the American-Statesman identified numerous employees accused of wrongdoing by CPS or the inspector general who were referred to local law enforcement agencies. The majority of those referrals were for lying on government documents to cover up sloppy casework, with caseworkers often saying they had visited children they had not. In other cases, employees failed to cooperate with law enforcement, lied on their travel reimbursement forms or refused to comply with a judge’s orders.

I think I’ve been very clear. In cases where you falsify documents, that’s a firing offense.

John Specia, commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services

State officials say they take swift action when they find such misconduct. John Specia, commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, said lying by caseworkers is never acceptable.

“I think I’ve been very clear,” he said. “In cases where you falsify documents, that’s a firing offense.”

Yet consequences doled out by CPS are inconsistent. Some employees have been fired, but others were not punished at all, the paper’s analysis showed.

Additionally, some supervisors who meted out discipline to troubled workers were later accused of their own misconduct, which some child welfare advocates said contributes to poor morale on the front lines.

Former CPS investigator Dimple Patel, now a research associate at advocacy group TexProtects, says she saw caseworkers falsify documents “a great deal” during her time at the agency.

“Once, a supervisor actually changed a worker’s documentation to state that the worker interviewed the children when they actually did not,” she said. “That supervisor was caught as the printed documents did not match up with the things changed in our computer database. … They both still work for the agency.”

When Specia arrived in 2012, the commissioner made it very clear that he has a zero tolerance policy for such behavior, and indeed it seemed to happen less frequently, Patel said. But records show it still happens.


Pressure to close cases

While each case is different, one clear theme emerges in the personnel and investigation records: An unmanageable workload and intense pressure to close cases compels workers to cut corners.

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In 2009, Texas’ Legislature ordered Child Protective Services to publicly record every abuse- and neglect-related death in the state – but those reports have not been thoroughly analyzed to help identify patterns to prevent future deaths until now.

Caseworkers obviously don’t enter the profession with the intent to lie about the safety of children, said Randy Burton with Justice for Children. But pressure to close investigations “come hell or high water” has plagued caseworkers for years and can lead to wrongdoing, he said.

“I think that pressure has also directly resulted in sloppy casework and finding any excuse by caseworkers to close cases,” said Burton, whose Houston-based nonprofit advocates for child safety. “Once falsification of records begins, it tends to become a pattern. The only way to cover up a lie is with another lie.”

The consequences can be devastating. In April 2013, a Corsicana infant was seriously injured by his parents after a CPS investigator failed to check out a neglect allegation against the family but said that she had.

“When CPS investigators don’t investigate those cases and lie about it in their reports, not only are they breaking the law but they are putting the children they are supposed to protect in danger,” said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Adam Muldrow, who prosecuted Robinson.

Neither Robinson nor her attorney could be reached for comment.


Investigating investigators

Allegations of wrongdoing come to the agency in a number of ways. Officials can receive complaints from prosecutors, defense attorneys, teachers or parents. CPS supervisors also have discovered misdeeds through mistakes in travel reimbursement forms, which raised questions about whether caseworkers actually saw the children.

From there, the agency scrutinizes the allegations. It also sends complaints to the Office of Inspector General, which launches its own investigation. If evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing is discovered, the case is referred to the local district attorney’s office.

While the inspector general’s work hasn’t resulted in a slew of arrests, CPS sometimes relies upon those investigations as a justification to punish or fire its employees. In one case, the office determined that a CPS investigator was working as a small-town police chief on state time. CPS fired the investigator.

Some regional offices have been accused of misdeeds multiple times. In Smith County, which includes Tyler, prosecutor Tiffani Wickel has reported at least six employees for wrongdoing in the past two years. In one case, three workers were accused of forging a signature on a removal affidavit to the court because the investigator said she was out of the office when it was due. The investigator quit, and two other employees were disciplined.

Wickel did not respond to questions about whether the women were charged and prosecuted for their alleged misconduct.

Police detectives leave Abilene’s CPS office during an investigation into mishandling of a severe neglect case. Police said the investigation was difficult because of the department’s relationship with CPS.Nellie Doneva / Abilene Reporter-News

In another case, three Abilene-area CPS workers were accused of obstructing a criminal investigation into the 2012 death of Tamryn Klapheke, who starved to death days after a CPS caseworker closed the case without visiting the child.

In that situation, former CPS regional director Bit Whitaker signed off on disciplinary action against a supervisor accused of subpar work involving the child. Whitaker, however, was later accused of wrongdoing in the same case. She was put on paid leave and allowed to retire while the Abilene Police Department investigated allegations that she concealed documents and medical records involving Tamryn and her sisters.

In July, a Taylor County grand jury indicted Whitaker on charges of tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony. Sgt. Lynn Beard with the Abilene Police Department says more indictments could come against other CPS employees.

Bit Whitaker was indicted on charges of tampering with physical evidence.

“It was very difficult,” Beard said. “We had to investigate people we know.”

In 2013, three CPS workers in Greenville — Laura Ard, Natalie Ausbie-Reynolds and Rebekah Thonginh-Ross — were criminally charged with tampering with evidence in the death of teenager Alicia Moore, who police say was murdered by her uncle after CPS had been warned the girl was in danger. Prosecutors say the three workers falsified documents to justify closing the case without conducting a thorough investigation.

Thonginh-Ross told officials she did it because she was under pressure to close cases and that she was only following Ard’s orders, according to a report by an Office of Inspector General investigator. Ard then blamed her supervisor for issuing an edict to reduce the office’s backlog of investigations, the document states.

“Ard said that the ‘state office’ was aware of the manner in which CPS was working,” the inspector general report states. “Ard also said that as long as CPS employees are paid at their current levels that this is the standard of work that could be expected from them.”


Contact Andrea Ball at 512-912-2506.

Next: State hopes analytics prevent child abuse deaths

Part 1: Gaps in protection

  • Missed signs could have prevented child deaths

  • State undercounts child abuse-related deaths

  • Agency warned 23 times before Brandon White death

  • Family on state radar in many child abuse deaths

Part 2: Stumbling blocks

  • Many child abuse death cases drag on for years

  • In some child abuse deaths, family can’t be found

  • Parents’ unmarried partners can pose threat to children

Part 3: Inside CPS

  • Many caseworkers caught lying, falsifying records

  • State hopes analytics prevent child abuse deaths

  • For CPS employees, danger not uncommon

  • Stress, low pay contribute to caseworker turnover

  • Officials say overhaul focuses on internal issues

Ongoing coverage

  • Placements with family members can be deadly for abused children

    At least 86 Texas children died after being abused or neglected by non-parent relatives over five years.

  • Investigation spurs lawmakers’ call for child protection agency changes

Data explorer

  • Child abuse and neglect fatality database

    See every child fatality report and many of the important data points that were used in this project. Those data points and the associated analysis represents the only comprehensive review of the reports since the state was required in 2009 by lawmakers to generate them.

From FB; woman commits suicide during arrest of bf–what happened?

https://www.wric.com/news/virginia-news/woman-shot-herself-through-mouth-while-handcuffed-during-traffic-stop-suicide-officials-say/1850161292?fbclid=IwAR3Kco73us1PznFxy4kAMHhWFa4wgpgSqq7XMBTgl8UtMFpMvXAEplm1enM

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A 19-year-old woman whose hands were cuffed behind her back when she committed suicide during a traffic stop in Chesapeake died of a gunshot wound through the mouth, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Sarah Wilson committed suicide on July 25, 2018, during a traffic stop near the intersection of Berkley Avenue and Wilson Road, according to the Chesapeake Police Department.

She was the passenger of a 1996 Lexus driven by her boyfriend, 27-year-old Holden Medlin. The couple were under the surveillance of two CPD officers — one assigned to uniform patrol, and the other to vice narcotics — when they were stopped around 4:24 p.m.

During the stop, the officers approached Wilson and Medlin separately. While one officer handcuffed Wilson with her hands behind her back, the other tried to detain Medlin, CPD Officer Leo Kosinski told WAVY in August.

Medlin resisted arrest, becoming combative and trying to flee the scene. That’s when the officer who handcuffed Wilson left her outside of the car’s passenger side and went to assist in Medlin’s arrest, which involved using a Taser to subdue him, according to police.

Kosinski said in August that Wilson was handcuffed with her arms behind her back when she got the gun out of the Lexus, “contorted” her body and shot herself in the head.

On Thursday, the OCME of Tidewater confirmed to WAVY that Wilson did commit suicide, and that she died from an “intra-oral gunshot wound.”

The CPD launched an internal investigation into Wilson’s suicide in July. Kosinski confirmed that the department has since concluded that investigation, but declined to comment on its outcome.

Medlin was arrested in connection to the traffic stop after he swallowed a “golf-ball” sized-bag with an unknown substance in it. Police searched the car and found 11 oxycodone, a syringe, drug paraphernalia, a rifle, and several boxes of ammunition, according to court documents.

He was charged with possession of oxycodone, possession of suboxone, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a firearm with a schedule I or II drug, fleeing from a law enforcement officer, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Those charges were certified to a grand jury on Tuesday.

Find 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.

From FB: 91% of parents say they are bullied in court by judges

91% of Parents Say They Have been Bullied By Judges in Family Law Cases

Why aren’t the courts doing something about the behavior of the judges?  We need more oversight.

91% of Parents Say They Have been Bullied By Judges in Family Law Cases

A Twitter poll carried out by this site has found that 91% of parents going through family law proceedings have been bullied by judges during their cases.

The poll was created in conjunction with our campaign to ensure that families are treated fairly and with respect during the life of their cases. Since launching the campaign we have received hundreds of messages from families saying they were abused by judges during their cases and offering details of their experiences.

The shock revelation comes after barristers complained last month that they were being bullied by judges during court hearings. The Bar Council immediately acknowledged the problem and issued guidance offering lawyers protectionsagainst bullying by judges in court.

Researching Reform is now calling on the President of the Family Division to do the same for children, parents and families in child welfare cases.

Our call follows a ruling by the Court of Appeal in February, which found a judge guilty of bullying a mother into accepting care orders for her children. The orders were set aside, however the judge did not face any disciplinary action for her conduct.

These are the most common complaints we received about judges bullying families in court:

  • Belittling, humiliating and abusive comments to children and family members
  • Behaviour that causes fear or terror
  • Demeaning comments about a disabled parent’s disability
  • Laughing at a parent’s question
  • Cutting off and silencing parents and their solicitors as they try to make a point
  • Unreasonable demands in court orders which a “good-enough” parent would not be able to comply with
  • Constant criticism of a parent or family member
  • Personal abuse for being unable to afford legal representation
  • Being bullied into accepting orders
  • Threats to remove children from parents before the hearing begins
  • Explicitly favouring one parent over another
  • Prejudging a case before it has concluded and bullying families into submission

Complaining about being bullied by a judge is almost impossible for parents and families going through family court proceedings.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) has been set up for complaints about the personal conduct of judicial office holders, however it does not accept all complaints about conduct which amounts to bullying.

While the JCIO can look into the use of racist, sexist or offensive language; falling asleep in court; social media abuse and incidents where judges misuse their status for personal gain, the list does not include a clearly defined set of behaviours for bullying.

Furthermore, the list of items the office will not investigate includes conduct which could be defined as judicial bullying in certain contexts. And the list of what the JCIO can’t investigate is long. Very long:

  • A judge’s decision or order
  • Bias in a judge’s decision-making
  • A judge allowing one party to speak for longer than another
  • A judge refusing to allow a witness to give evidence or admit certain documents
  • A judge appearing to react more favourably to one person’s evidence than another’s
  • A judge saying that he or she does not believe a person’s evidence, questioning a person’s credibility or criticising a person’s actions
  • A judge making an error of law or procedure
  • A judge expressing opinions about issues related to a case they are hearing
  • A judge’s body language, facial expressions or how a judge has looked at a party
  • The amount of costs or damages awarded by a judge
  • A judge not reading documents before a hearing
  • A judge refusing to transfer a case to a different judge or court
  • A judge reserving a case to themselves
  • A judge refusing to correspond with a party about a case
  • Fraud or any other criminal offence
  • Court staff, court bailiffs or the facilities and services provided by courts
  • Other bodies such as the Police or Crown Prosecution Service
  • Solicitors and Barristers

By contrast, the new guidance issued by the Bar Council for barristers who have been bullied by judges offers counsels protection from a much more robust list of behaviours than the JCIO’s own list. The Bar Council outlined bullying behaviour in its guidance as:

  • Personal abuse,
  • Sarcasm,
  • Contemptuousness,
  • Unreasonable demands,
  • Relentless criticism,
  • Intemperate language,
  • Demeaning behaviour,
  • Comments designed to embarrass or humiliate.

Parents and family members described several types of bullying by family court judges. We’ve added some instances of bullying below, but a fuller list can be viewed here.

“My son was humiliated by a female judge in Bolton family courts. She read out a letter supposedly from my granddaughter who at the time was just 9 years old saying she wanted to be called Daniel after the bloke her mother was with at the time. While reading the note out the judge smirked constantly, it was disgusting.”

“Judge [edited] verbally abused me in court. He ridiculed me in front of my husband who abused my children and I for 10 years… He couldn’t even get my son’s age correct. I felt humiliated and burst into tears on leaving court.”

“I was made to comply with impossible court orders. When I confessed that I couldn’t comply anymore during a hearing the judge got sarcastic and belittled me. I wish I could have been sarcastic back and asked him if he could have done the order he imposed on me, but of course I couldn’t treat him the same as he was treating me.”

“Litigants in Person suffer the most.”

“The judge wouldn’t allow me to speak about my concerns for my children’s safety, and cut my solicitor off at the middle of every sentence while trying to explain my side of the case. He belittled me and made me anxious at the fact my concerns weren’t been listened to and therefore my children’s thoughts weren’t been viewed or taken seriously.”

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from FB: warning on antibiotic Z packs, may cause heart damage

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/z-pack-heart-rhythm-warning-fda-warns-azithromycin-z-deadly-heart-rhythms-for-some/

FDA warns azithromycin “Z-pack” antibiotics could lead to deadly heart rhythms for some

Azithromycin, a commonly-prescribed antibiotic, may trigger a potentially deadly irregular heart rhythm for some patients, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned Tuesday. The antibiotic that’s sold as Zithromax, Zmax or sometimes referred to as a “Z-Pack” is prescribed to treat bacterial infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or ear infections.

The FDA is warning the public that the pills can cause abnormal changes in the heart’s electrical activity that may lead to a fatal heart rhythm. Not everyone is at risk. Patients with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or those who use  certain drugs to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias face the greatest risk.

“Health care professionals should consider the risk of fatal heart rhythms with azithromycin when considering treatment options for patients who are already at risk for cardiovascular events,” the FDA said in its March 12th update.

The new guidance was prompted by a May 2012 study and another study by the antibiotic’s manufacturer, Pfizer, that looked at risks to electrical activity of the heart in azithromycin-takers.

Last May, a New England Journal of Medicine study paid for by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found there would be 47 extra heart-related deaths per one million course of treatment with five days of Zithromax, as compared to 10 days of amoxicillin and other antibiotics. The risks of cardiovascular death associated with levofloxacin (Levaquin) treatment were similar to those associated with azithromycin treatment, according to the FDA.

“People need to recognize that the overall risk is low,” Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University health outcomes specialist who was not involved in the study, told the Associated Press last May. He added more research was needed but patients with heart disease “should probably be steered away” from Zithromax for now.

The FDA also issued a statement last May following the study saying the agency was aware of the findings, and it would review the results and communicate any new information.

Sales of Zithromax, one of the U.S.’ top-selling antibiotics, totaled $464 million in 2011 according to health care information company IMS Health, the AP reported.

From FB: Court Corruption Joke of the day: what do you call supervised visitation?

Answer: Pay per view!

Far too many parents, children and other relatives are told that in order to see their own children, their own parents, their own grandparents, they have to pay a court ordered supervisor from $50 to $150 per hour.  Many people cannot afford that.  And it’s illegal under the 4th amendment (unlawful govt seizure) and 14th amendments (equal protection).

In the case of children, it’s a Constitutional Right under the right of privacy.

This is one system that has to end.

The United States recognizes that parents have a constitutional right to their children (See Troxel v. Granville). In this case the United States Supreme Court stated that “the interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children–is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.”[1]

From FB: Pacer.gov to be free under bill sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180911/17314640621/surprise-bill-introduced-to-finally-make-pacer-free-to-all.shtml

This is a bill we all need to get behind. And if Pacer’s going to be free then Cook County should switch to Pacer!  Right now our system is a disaster, I have complaints of litigants standing in line for up to an hour to get court file document prints, or no prints at all.  Clerk’s response?  Oh, people rarely print documents.  But maybe the reason people rarely print documents is because the system is so onerous. You have to stand at a terminal, you have to click on the document, you have to click on print, you have to keep track of the case number and number of pages. Cases which are unsealed do not appear online and aren’t printable. The clerk’s office blames the judges’ clerks and the judge’s clerks claim they unsealed the case, but “it’s not working right for some reason.”  Lot of complaints.

The print system at the Daley center is a nightmare and has to end.

So let’s get behind this bill and expand it to all state court systems.  Court documents should be free.  Cases should not be held ransom.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180911/17314640621/surprise-bill-introduced-to-finally-make-pacer-free-to-all.shtml

Surprise: Bill Introduced To Finally Make PACER Free To All

from the nice! dept

So this is somewhat unexpected, but Rep. Doug Collins has introduced HR 6714, a bill to make federal court records free to the public.

H.R. 6714, the Electronic Court Records Reform Act, would guarantee free public access to federal court records through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, which currently charges the public a fee to access documents. The bill would also require updates to the PACER system, including adding a function to enable all users to search its catalog of court documents easily. Currently, litigants are handicapped because they cannot conduct research through the system.

The bill would further support legal professionals and the general public by consolidating the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system. The CM/ECF system was designed to increase efficiency for all stakeholders within the judicial system, but it is compartmentalized among different courts. This makes locating records and filing documents difficult and inefficient. The Electronic Court Records Reform Act would unify these disconnected systems under the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in order to ensure uniform access to all federal litigants.

This would be… amazing. We’ve spent years highlighting the massive problems with PACER, the federal court system that charges insane amounts for basically everything you do, just to access public records, and which functions very much like it was designed around 1995. There are a few court cases arguing that PACER fees are illegal and a recent ruling in one of those cases agreed. As we noted at the time, that was hardly the final word on the matter. A bill like the ones Collins introduced would be an amazing leap forward in giving public access to court documents.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if the bill has any support beyond Collins, but this is the kind of thing you would hope that Congress could get behind.

Filed Under: access to informationdoug collinsfeespacerpublic documentsus court system

Surprise: Bill Introduced To Finally Make PACER Free To All

from the nice! dept

So this is somewhat unexpected, but Rep. Doug Collins has introduced HR 6714, a bill to make federal court records free to the public.

H.R. 6714, the Electronic Court Records Reform Act, would guarantee free public access to federal court records through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, which currently charges the public a fee to access documents. The bill would also require updates to the PACER system, including adding a function to enable all users to search its catalog of court documents easily. Currently, litigants are handicapped because they cannot conduct research through the system.

The bill would further support legal professionals and the general public by consolidating the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system. The CM/ECF system was designed to increase efficiency for all stakeholders within the judicial system, but it is compartmentalized among different courts. This makes locating records and filing documents difficult and inefficient. The Electronic Court Records Reform Act would unify these disconnected systems under the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in order to ensure uniform access to all federal litigants.

This would be… amazing. We’ve spent years highlighting the massive problems with PACER, the federal court system that charges insane amounts for basically everything you do, just to access public records, and which functions very much like it was designed around 1995. There are a few court cases arguing that PACER fees are illegal and a recent ruling in one of those cases agreed. As we noted at the time, that was hardly the final word on the matter. A bill like the ones Collins introduced would be an amazing leap forward in giving public access to court documents.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if the bill has any support beyond Collins, but this is the kind of thing you would hope that Congress could get behind.

Filed Under: access to informationdoug collinsfeespacerpublic documentsus court system

 

and more earlier posts on the subject yield:

Legislators Take Another Stab At Eliminating Fees For PACER Access

from the aligning-the-price-tag-with-the-value-of-PACER’s-UI dept

An new annual tradition in the halls of Congress is being celebrated with the introduction of legislation targeting PACER fees.

Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) reintroduced the Electronic Court Records Reform Act as HR 1164 Wednesday with cosponsors Mike Quigley (D-IL), David Roe (R-TN), and Henry “Hank” C. Johnson, Jr. (D-GA).

The full title of the bill is “To direct the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to consolidate the Case Management/Electronic Case Files system, and for other purposes.” The full text of the bill is not currently available, but it is expected to be substantially similar to HR 6714 from the second session of the 115th Congress last year.

Last year’s bill died after being referred to the House Judiciary Committee, most likely trampled underfoot by Congressional hearings and wall-related legislation. Either that or it’s tough to get Congress members excited about eliminating fees they already don’t have to pay.

There have been no successful attempts to curb PACER fees, much less turn it into a free service. We know this because PACER still charges $0.10/page for documents and dockets as if it were an aged librarian keeping close tabs on the Xerox machine.

It has been nearly 20 years since PACER opened its doors to the public. Since its inception, prices have increased, fee collections have steadily ticked upward, and almost none of that money is being spent trying to lower access costs or update the archaic system that punishes the public for expressing an interest in court proceedings.

The only thing PACER has really done over the last twenty years is attract legislation and lawsuits. While it did create an online portal for court documents that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, that’s about all it’s done with the time and money the US court system has had at its disposal. It’s not that this step wasn’t important. It was a huge step forward. Since then, the PACER system has been characterized by its inertia.

Maybe this will be the year Congress finally decides to take this issue seriously. At least one federal court has suggested PACER is misusing fees. Another judge has decided to allow a class action suit against the US Courts system to proceed, stating that these litigants suffer directly from the costs imposed by the government’s walled garden.

At the heart of all this is the First Amendment and the presumption of openness the US court system is supposed to adhere to. Instituting a paywall allows only some people to exercise their right to access public court documents. Whatever arguments might be made about having to offset the (very minimal) costs of maintaining this portal ignore the obvious side effects of limiting access only to those who can afford it.

From FB: Mother obtains $6.2 million settlement. Given Paxil during pregnancy, daughter born with hole in heart.

We all know psychotropic drugs are very dangerous, now it appears they are related to birth defects.

Moms reach $6.2m settlement over claims that anti-depressant caused kids’ heart problems

Moms reach $6.2m settlement over claims that anti-depressant caused kids’ heart problems

Faith Gibson with her daughter Meah, 11.
Faith Gibson with her daughter Meah, 11. Mark van Manen / PNG

Faith Gibson first started to take Paxil to help her with her anxiety and continued to use it through her pregnancy.

But the Surrey mother-of-two’s stress levels went way up after her daughter was born with a hole in her heart and required open-heart surgery to repair the damage.

At first she thought her daughter’s ordeal was just bad luck. But after reading an article in a newspaper about the issue, she began to believe that Paxil might have caused her child’s health problems.

She filed a class action lawsuit against the drug company, GlaxoSmithKline U.K. Limited, claiming that she and other mothers had not been properly warned about the risks of taking Paxil during pregnancy.

Nine years after filing the lawsuit, Gibson is happy to report that the two sides have reached a settlement in principle for $6.2 million. About 50 other Canadian women and their children have so far come forward to join the class action.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

“I’m happy I didn’t have to go to trial and go that route with them,” Gibson, 41, said Wednesday. “I’m pleased at how it all turned out.”

Meah Bartram during treatment for her heart problems shortly after her birth in September 2005.

Since her daughter, Meah Bartram, had corrective surgery at the age of six months, she remains particularly susceptible to whichever cold or flu is going around.

In general, Meah, now 11, seems to be doing better physically. But the ordeal has affected her mentally as well, says her mom.

“Any kind of pain she has in her heart or any sort of discomfort she feels in her chest, she feels like it’s something bad going on and that she might have to have surgery again,” said Gibson, who owns a cafe in south Surrey.

“That side of things hasn’t subsided at all. She’s got a nasty scar on her chest to remember it by, so it’s always there.”

The $6.2-million settlement, which the parties will seek to have approved by a judge March 27, calls for the mothers affected to receive 25 per cent of whatever amount a court-appointed administrator decides they and their children are entitled to, while their children get the rest.

David Rosenberg, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the amounts will vary depending on the severity of the damage done but estimated that the average settlement for each mother-child pairing will be around $150,000.

“Everybody is very pleased,” said Rosenberg. “So far we’ve had only a positive reception. This has been a fight that has been going on for more than nine years.”

Faith Gibson and Meah Bartram, who is now 11.

Though she and her daughter stand to receive a substantial sum, Gibson said money was never her primary motivation.

“I was just trying to get some accountability out of them for what they did,” said Gibson. “Of course, the money is a bonus, but at the same time it should have never happened in the first place.”

Meah was born in September 2005. Gibson alleged that the company knew as early as June 2003 that there was a significant risk of serious adverse cardiovascular complications for newborns from pregnant mothers ingesting Paxil.

The drug was first approved for use in Canada in 1993 and remains a popular treatment for conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is still prescribed to pregnant women but the warnings on the labels as to whether it is suitable for them have become more severe than when the drug was initially marketed and sold, said Rosenberg.

The lawyer encouraged mothers in B.C. who believe they are eligible to join the suit to come forward before the settlement hearing, which is the deadline in this province. The period of potential eligibility is from Jan. 1, 1993 to Dec. 3, 2012. B.C. mothers can call Rosenberg’s Vancouver law firm at 604-879-4505.

Due to different laws elsewhere in Canada, mothers outside B.C. have missed their deadline.

In an email, GlaxoSmithKline said that despite the settlement in principle, it does not admit to any liability or wrongdoing but has agreed to resolve the class action case to avoid the time and expense associated with a trial and subsequent steps in the proceedings.

“We continue to be of the view that the scientific evidence does not establish that exposure to Paxil during pregnancy causes cardiovascular birth defects.

“Patient safety is our highest concern and we continue to believe that the company provided accurate and updated information in relation to Paxil to regulators, and communicated important safety information to regulatory agencies, the scientific community and healthcare professionals.”

kfraser@postmedia.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

From FB: Serious problems exist in NY courts where DV is ignored and abusers given custody/visitation

From Joanne:

I have personally seen this happen n Cook County courts where the judges make excuses: 1) well, she (or he) married that person; 2) if they weren’t getting divorced the parent would have access anyway; 3) DCFS found no credibility to the claim of abuse (after a doctor and nurse trained in abuse found there was a problem with abuse.) This has got to end.

domestic violence laws

Posted: Mar 04, 2019 6:06 AM CSTUpdated: Mar 05, 2019 5:47 PM CST

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NEWBURGH –Mothers with painful pasts are sounding the alarm about new York state’s domestic violence laws, – claiming that far too often violent batterers are awarded child custody with potential deadly consequences.

In ‘No Way Out,’ a months-long Turn To Tara investigation, News 12 takes an in-depth look into domestic violence laws on the books in New York and speaks to victims who feel these laws create more problems, than solutions.  The Turn to Tara investigative team spent months combing through court cases and police documents.  In the research, they discovered hidden truths about New York’s domestic violence laws and their impact on victims and children.

In Part One of the three-part series, News 12’s Tara Rosenblum uncovers the shocking statistics that everyone should know.

Every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted by an intimate partner.  Many of the women are moms trying to protect their children, but that doesn’t always work out.

The Leadership Council on Child Abuse says 58,000 U.S. children a year are court-ordered into the custody of abusive parents.

Video: Extended interviews with domestic violence victims:

Rosenblum spoke to one mom, “Vanessa,” (real name has been changed for safety reasons) who explains that she was abused by her ex-husband, a local college professor. “He had broken my nose. I had two black eyes. I was battered all over. Chunks of my hair were missing. The beating ensued for hours.”

Vanessa says the abuse continued and despite multiple arrests and guilty pleas, her goals of making a clean break from the ex-husband were “derailed” after a judge issued him visitation rights with her son. “You are playing fast and loose with a child’s life. I couldn’t get out of the house, and I’m grown woman. How is a 3-year-old going to get away or get help and you’re just going to trust someone with history of domestic violence? We hear cases all the time, children going to visit with batterers and not coming back home.”

The Center for Judicial Excellence says 666 American children (23 in New York) have been killed by a parent in the past decade. In 85 of those cases, mothers had warned family courts their children were in danger.

DATABASE:  View number of reported incidents by county

“How could that happen? I don’t know specifics, but yes I would agree that at first blush that would seem alarming,” says Judge Susan Capeci, who oversees all the felony domestic violence cases in Westchester County. “In a domestic violence situation, they take a very hard look at the pros and cons for each story.” When asked if there are scenarios where a batterer is entitled to visitation of a child, Capeci says each case is different. “I would be hard pressed in a very serious case of domestic violence to see a way clear to that, especially if child is traumatized. I don’t think it’s necessarily good for a child to cut off all communication with a parent, but I’ve done that after hearings and trials. But there is usually a good spot that is right for child.”

Map of reported incidents – not including countywide statistics.  Click on icon for details.

https://fusiontables.google.com/embedviz?q=select+col1+from+1-PDevb2ushFattdj2BH6orNKnsQxK1WXkWphnS0V&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=41.39456920793428&lng=-73.6675088834138&t=1&z=9&l=col1&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=TWO_COL_LAT_LNG

An existing case law in New York does require all judges to factor in previous abuse convictions during custody hearings. However, state Sen. David Carlucci (D) thinks the laws are not specific enough, so he’s proposed a bill spelling out the exact crimes to be considered like stalking or assault. “It’s about time we give more rights to the survivors of domestic violence,” says Carlucci.

Unfortunately, there are many victims across the Hudson Valley. A public records request for the six counties in the News 12 Westchester/Hudson Valley coverage area found out there were 6,424 victims of domestic violence in 2017 alone.

GET HELP:  Resources to domestic violence victims

A third of the cases played out in Orange County. As far the cities with the most victims? Mount Vernon and Newburgh each had 593.

Jennifer Glen is an example of a youngster who suffered a painful childhood and how cases of domestic violence and custody are rarely black and white. ”When my dad started abusing alcohol, he became very violent with my mom. My brother would see the fighting and beating. I would hide in my room and put the pillow over my head so I wouldn’t hear screaming and shouting. It was really terrifying.”

Even so, when her mom finally found the courage to leave, she now says that she was grateful that a judge granted supervised visits with her dad. “I think it’s so hard as a child. It’s drastic to go from him being there one day and the next day you wake up and say, ‘where’s my dad?’ You are so used to their voice and hearing them.”

VIDEO: Tara Rosenblum interviews judges Kathie Davidson, Susan Capeci and Lewis J. Lubell.

Glen says her relationship with her dad is now on the mend, but she is uncertain how her family would have been impacted by a makeover of the state’s domestic violence laws. However, Carlucci says the makeover is long overdue. “This is a public health emergency, and the alarms should be ringing, but unfortunately I don’t think they are.”

 

From JF on FB: Guardianship is still a dangerous proposition

Janice Fendel The victims or Wards are kept under lock and key.
They are traumatized as they are transported away from their homes without their consent and oftentimes without their comprehension of where they are being taken or for what reason and for what period of time.
Isolation is a key element of the typical lives of state Wards, including absolute or near-total separation from a family member who has joint ownership of assets, property and money.
Identification documents, whether driver licenses, Social Security cards, or passports, are routinely taken from elders even before they have a court hearing. This also prevents them from breaking out of this confinement to hire an attorney of their choice or get cash to hide and not go back where they were held captive. THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS ARE TOTALLY VIOLATED
Verbal attacks, incarceration, and Baker Act imprisonments are part and parcel of the tactics used against both Wards and their families attempting to visit or comfort them during the traumas of guardianship. You are not allowed visits for Holidays, Birthdays or any other tender mercies.
Use of punitive measures against Wards and their families is rampant when reports against guardians are made to the authorities.
The key element of guardianship abuse is the controlling of funds belonging to the Ward, most often spent on extravagant attorney and guardianship fees and to sue a family member with jointly owned assets, frequently totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in a year or so of forced guardianship.
Regardless of the laws in place in every state, Wards are trafficked by professionals who fear no consequences or penalties for their illegal conduct. The WARD IS USUALLY STARVED TO DEATH AFTER ALL MONEY IS DEPLETED. AND IN MOST CASES THERE IS NO MONEY LEFT FOR A FUNERAL.