FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2017
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023
QPWB GETS DEFENSE VERDICT FOR CHILDREN’S EMERGENCY SHELTER
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – David M. Tarlow, managing partner of the Fort Lauderdale office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. and Matthew McElligott an associate, received a defense verdict on behalf of The Brown Schools a/k/a Family Assessment Center (FAC) during a two week trial where they defended various alleged negligence claims totaling up to $4.25 million.
In November 1999, when the plaintiff was 14 years old, he was removed from his parents’ home due to domestic violence and an overall environment of dangerous conditions. He was placed at FAC which operated as an emergency shelter for children who were pending placement into the foster care system and where he was to be protected from further physical and emotional harm, and receive treatment/therapy as to various diagnosed mental illnesses developed from a severely dysfunctional childhood.
While residing at the FAC, the plaintiff alleged that his roommate, a known gang member, had sexually assaulted him. He reported the assaults to a staff member who failed to call the police and failed to call the Florida Abuse Hotline. He ran away upon learning that they would only change him to another room and that the alleged rapist would remain with him at FAC. As a runaway, plaintiff alleged he was forced to live on the streets, prostitute himself for drugs and money, and began using heroin and crack. He was sexually victimized by a 25-year-old registered sex offender as well as sexually abused by his father, whom he sought shelter with. Plaintiff’s expert diagnosed him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder along with a severe polysubstance addiction which required intensive in-patient and outpatient treatment, lasting over many years.
At trial, the judge granted partial summary judgment finding that FAC had violated Florida law by failing to call the Florida Abuse Hotline and so the jury was instructed. Plaintiff’s allegation also included negligence. That FAC had failed to timely conduct an initial assessment of the plaintiff; failed to properly provide 24-hour supervision during shifts; failed to conduct and document bed checks; failed to properly screen residents to determine if they were sex offenders; and, according to testimony from former CEO of The Brown Schools, who had testified that FAC was improperly staffed in order to show a financial profit and take the company public; the plaintiff alleged FAC put profits above safety.
Plaintiff presented a life care demand in the amounts of $2 -3 million with an additional $1.25 million for pain and suffering. The defense argued that the sexual assault was with plaintiff’s consent, which the trial court gave instruction that minors cannot legally consent to sex. The defense argued that plaintiff’s mental health issues were the result of a traumatic childhood and traumatic incidents withstood by plaintiff as an adult, unrelated to his time at FAC.
After two weeks of evidence, the jury returned a defense verdict in less than 2 hours, finding no negligence as to The Brown Schools.