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$200K settlement approved in foster care negligence case

Updated November 8, 2023 - 7:14 pm

Clark County commissioners on Monday approved a $200,000 settlement in a lawsuit brought on behalf of two minor children who suffered severe injuries while in the care of their former foster parents.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2020 by the children’s guardian ad litem Susan Hoy, alleges Clark County and several employees of the county’s Division of Family Services engaged in negligent conduct when they allowed minors to be placed and remain in the foster parents’ home despite alleged knowledge of neglect.

The alleged neglect occurred a decade ago, when “J.M.” and “I.M.,” the minors represented by Hoy, were both less than 2 years old. The lawsuit states that while under the care of Andrea and Waldo Hernandez, J.M. suffered second- to third-degree burns after one of their children placed the baby on top of a fridge located outdoors on a hot day.

Alarms were raised when the children visited a foster visitation center to see their biological mother, who noticed the injuries and raised concerns repeatedly with the department, the lawsuit said. The children were eventually taken from the home, 19 days after the department received the first allegation of neglect, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported at the time.

DFS workers and a pediatrician determined the children had been neglected. The couple was charged and pleaded guilty to one felony count each of child neglect or endangerment with substantial bodily harm in late 2013.

In the judge’s order, Hoy alleges the county breached its duty to the children by failing to comply with rules for licensing foster homes and for failing to adequately investigate the Hernandezes, despite workers having an alleged knowledge of concerning behavior.

The settlement resolves the case for Clark County but not for other parties also named in the lawsuit, including Lisa Brochu, the DFS caseworker in charge of J.M., and the Hernandezes.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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