Hawaii Supreme Court upholds $1.1M abuse lawsuit
The Department of Human Services failed to protect a 2-year-old
The Hawaii Supreme Court upheld yesterday a $1.1 million award against the state Department of Human Services for failing to protect a 2 1/2 -year-old Maui girl from child abuse.
The girl suffered a broken leg as the result of child abuse in February 2001, then suffered life-threatening internal organ injuries two months later while the department's Child Welfare Services Branch was still investigating the first incident.
The court found the department negligent for allowing the child to remain in her mother's custody after the first incident, a broken leg, even though there was evidence the mother's boyfriend might have been responsible.
The girl suffered further injury during emergency surgery at Maui Memorial Medical Center after the second incident.
The girl's biological father and grandfather sued the department, the girl's mother, her boyfriend and the hospital.
After a 16-day trial, a state judge awarded $243,000 in special damages and $800,000 in general damages to the girl's father for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The court also awarded $77,000 in costs.
The Human Services Department is responsible for the entire award less the amount the father and grandfather had settled with Maui Memorial Medical Center.