Seven current and former social workers, as well as an entire North Carolina county's Department of Social Services, have been accused of failing to prevent a young girl's death.
The wrongful death claim alleges that the social workers had received complaints that the toddler's guardian was neglectful and abusive, but failed to take action and remove the girl from the guardian's care. A separate claim was filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission, but that case is still pending.
Wrongful death lawsuits allow the families or estates of individuals killed due to the negligence of others to collect monetary damages compensating them for their loss. Plaintiffs typically hire one or more experienced attorneys to draft the lawsuit and represent them in court. The lawsuit against the North Carolina social workers requests more than $10,000 in damages.
The lawsuit claims that the social workers received three reports that the 15-month-old victim was suffering abuse at the hands of her great aunt, who served as the girl's legal guardian while her biological mother was awaiting trial for drug charges, but failed to act on these claims.
The social workers did remove another child from the home due to unsafe living conditions, but did not do likewise with the victim. Two months later, the young girl died after being left in a car without food, water or supervision for 12 hours. About a year after the death, the victim's great aunt was charged with second-degree murder.
Two social workers who worked on the case currently face criminal charges, accused of obstructing justice and forging records that falsely showed a complete investigation into the abuse claims had been conducted.
While an attorney representing the victim's estate said he does not want the wrongful death lawsuit to interfere with the criminal cases, he explained that evidence has revealed that "some employees have engaged in bad behavior."
Source: Reflector, "Lawyers sue Swain County DSS over NC girl's death," Mitch Weiss, June 6, 2012