This is just disgusting. An epitome of a bad foster mother allowed a seven-month-old baby who had been in her care for less than three weeks to die of a respiratory infection, choking on her own mucus and vomit while wearing a soiled diaper and covered in roach bites… and then she ended up profiting from her own neglect!
Via Tulsa World reports:
An appeals court ruling has allowed a Tulsa foster mother to “profit from her own neglect” by collecting about $1 million in insurance proceeds after a baby died in her care, according to court records and a motion by an attorney representing the child’s estate.
Although the baby’s estate won a $24 million judgment in state court against the foster mother, she had no funds to pay the judgment. Two insurance companies providing policies for DHS claimed that their policies shouldn’t have to pay the claim, and the matter wound up in federal court.
In order to collect the judgment, attorneys representing the baby’s estate had to agree to give the foster mother a portion of any settlement proceeds from their federal “bad faith” lawsuit against the insurance companies.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell ruled that foster children lack standing to bring such lawsuits, preventing the baby’s estate from collecting on the entire judgment, and the 10th Circuit’s ruling upheld that decision.
Michael Barkett, an attorney representing the estate of 7-month-old Aurora Espinal-Cruz, said the firm plans to contest the ruling.
“If it (the ruling) stands, it preserves the ability of insurance companies to collude with negligent foster parents, avoid accountability to foster kids, and forecloses foster kids’ rights to protect and enforce their rights against such conduct,” Barkett said.
However, Keith Taunton, a spokesman for Colony Insurance Co., said, “The holding by the 10th Circuit in this appeal merely reaffirms Oklahoma law regarding the interpretation of insurance contracts generally and does not change anything as far as foster parents or the DHS foster program are concerned.”
Colony was one of two insurance companies paid by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to provide liability insurance under the foster care program.
Aurora was 7 months old when she died in 2002 in the Tulsa foster home of Deanza Jones. No criminal charges were filed against Jones in the death.
But Barkett’s appeal to the 10th Circuit alleges that “while under the custody and care of foster parent Deanza Jones, Aurora suffered and died an agonizing death while left neglected and unattended for many days.”
“Aurora was found to have been suffering from untreated viral respiratory illness for days. She died by suffocation on her own emesis and coughed up blood while left abandoned by Jones in a filthy crib infested by cockroaches. Aurora’s skin in and around her diaper area had been eaten away by cockroaches,” the appeal states.
In filings that were part of a state lawsuit against her, Jones denied allegations that she neglected the child.
Aurora and her 4-year-old sister, Casandra, were placed in Jones’ home shortly before Aurora’s death Jan. 27, 2002.
A teacher noticed bruises on the older girl, and DHS investigated whether the bruises were caused by “their stepfather’s harsh discipline,” court records state. The girls’ mother, Jamie Cruz, “was never accused or suspected of any abuse or wrongdoing,” Barkett’s appeal states.
In 2003, Cruz’s estate sued Jones, DHS and several DHS employees individually in Tulsa County District Court.
The estate’s attorney alleged that DHS had received child-abuse complaints against Jones in the past. About nine months after Aurora’s death, Tulsa police investigated a new report of child abuse and arrested Jones on a complaint of injury to a minor child, an arrest report states. She was later charged on accusations that she struck an 8-year-old boy several times with an extension cord, injuring his leg.
Jones admitted her guilt and received a two-year deferred sentence, records show.
DHS dropped Jones and her husband from its foster program because of the child abuse allegations in 2002, officials said. The lawsuit also alleged that DHS workers failed to notify Aurora’s foster parents of her respiratory illness.
Sounds like the foster care system is just as effed up in Oklahoma as everywhere else, but the legal system seems like some really fawkery for this woman to see a dime off the death of that child. And how this woman never saw jail time is beyond us!!!
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