Tulare County Settles Child Welfare Lawsuit for $32 Million
Tulare County has agreed to a $32 million lawsuit settlement stemming from the abuse and neglect of a young child. The payout “is believed to be the largest settlement ever obtained against a child protective services agency by a surviving child of abuse in the state of California,” according to the plaintiff’s attorney Brian Panish.
The boy, known only as J.G., was subjected to extreme malnourishment by his parents who reportedly rejected modern medicine and believed diseases were not real. As an infant, they fed him puréed bananas instead of breast milk or formula and put him on a regimen of sun and ice baths.
J.G. failed to thrive and, within weeks of his birth, his grandmother contacted Child Welfare Services to get them to intervene. They did not.
In March 2020, the grandmother made 10 calls in a single day pleading for social services to act. According to the complaint, none of the calls were documented by the agency.
When J.G. was 10 months old, he was hospitalized with “profound brain damage due to severe malnourishment.” According to the lawsuit, his cognitive impairments are permanent and he is expected to have the mind of an infant for the rest of his life.
“J.G.'s experience represents one of the worst cases of what happens when Child Welfare Services fails to fulfill its basic obligations,” Panish said in a news release. “There is no amount of money that will restore J.G.'s quality of life and we will never know the life he could have lived if the County had just done its job.”
In addition to the $32 million payout, Tulare’s Child Welfare agency must change its policies and improve tracking and follow-up of abuse allegations through new software.