MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--SiebenCarey and NewmarkStorms today filed a federal civil rights/wrongful death lawsuit in United States District Court, District of Minnesota, against Hennepin County Human Services, the agency’s personnel and two Minnesota-based private agencies and its staff members. The legal filing comes after the December 2014 death of “KZJ,” a six-year-old girl who was involuntarily removed from her mother’s care and placed into the Hennepin County foster care system in March 2014.
Immediately after being placed with Tannise Nawaqavou, a foster care provider, six-year old KZJ was observed and documented to be exhibiting a series of severe signs, symptoms and impairments including negative attention-seeking behaviors, low self-esteem, and homicidal and suicidal ideations. The foster care provider acknowledged that she was not qualified to care for KZJ and provide special needs the child required.
Further professional psychological assessments of KZJ in 2014 confirmed that the six-year-old experienced suicidal and homicidal behaviors every day, or nearly every day for several months before her death. In June 2014, mental health counselors at Burnsville-based LifeSpan of Minnesota recommended the child receive intense integrated therapeutic services and proposed creating a crisis plan to provide extensive support to the foster family charged with caring for KZJ. Still, there is no evidence that any medical professional working with KZJ referred her to a psychiatrist.
On Dec. 27, 2014, Adrea Nawaqavou, found KZJ hanging from a jump rope tied to the child’s bunk bed. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner concluded that KZJ’s cause of death was “ligature hanging.” Nawaqavou’s foster care license was temporarily suspended on Dec. 29, 2014 and permanently revoked in March 2015.
“This is a tragic case of multiple individuals at state and private agencies ignoring the safety and mental health condition of child who desperately needed care,” said Jeffrey Montpetit, attorney at SiebenCarey.
“In working with KZJ’s grandmother, Mary Broadus, the Court appointed trustee, we have filed suit after documenting a series of systematic failures and deliberate indifference of the agencies and individuals who were responsible for KZJ’s safety and welfare,” added Jeffrey Storms, attorney at NewmarkStorms.
Family Alternatives, Inc., a Minneapolis-based agency authorized by the Hennepin County Department of Human Services as a private child caring/placing agency, and LifeSpan of Minnesota, are both named in the lawsuit for their roles in failing to monitor and effectively communicate the child’s safety, welfare, and serious mental health needs.
Founded in 1952, SiebenCarey has grown to become one of Minnesota’s largest and most widely respected personal injury law firms, successfully and passionately representing more than 65,000 clients. The firm employs 20+ experienced lawyers and professional support personnel covering general trial practice in all courts, civil rights, personal injury, workers’ compensation, wrongful death and medical malpractice. The offices are located around the state of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Duluth and Lakeville. For more information, visit www.knowyourrights.com.
NewmarkStorms Law Office is one of Minnesota’s premier trial law firms, focusing on criminal defense, personal injury, and civil rights. NewmarkStorms is presently litigating several of Minnesota’s most high-profile civil rights cases, including an ongoing challenge to the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act and the case against a Saint Paul police officer for fabricating evidence about a non-existent Somali sex-trafficking ring. For more information, visit www.newmarkstorms.com.