Tulare County will pay $32 million to settle a lawsuit alleging its child welfare agency failed to respond to reports of abuse involving an infant boy who was hospitalized for malnutrition and suffered brain damage, plaintiffs’ attorneys said Monday.
Under the terms of the settlement, the county must also implement policies and computer software that will enable Child Welfare Services to better track and follow up on allegations of child abuse, according to a statement by the law firm Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi.
Tulare County officials and its attorneys did not immediately respond Monday to requests for comment on the settlement.
About Brian Panish
Lead attorney Brian J. Panish was the recipient of Fresno State’s Distinguished Alumni Award — the university’s highest alumni honor — in 2019.
The former Fresno State football player graduated from Fresno State in 1980 with a degree in political science before earning his law degree, with honors, from Southwestern Law School.
Among his verdicts: a record $4.9 billion jury award in the landmark products liability case Anderson v. General Motors in 1999. The judge in the case later cut the award to $1.09 billion.
Tulare County Case Filed in February 2021
The deal was announced just weeks before trial was scheduled in the civil case filed last February on behalf of a child named in court papers as “J.G.”
The lawsuit alleged Child Welfare Services failed to investigate multiple reports starting in March 2020 claiming that J.G. suffered neglect and abuse while in the custody of his biological parents.
At 10 months old, the boy was hospitalized and suffered “profound and permanent brain damage due to severe malnutrition,” according to the court filing.
The lawsuit accused the county, the child welfare agency and its employees of negligence. It sought unspecified monetary damages for “physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering.”
(Associated Press contributed to this story.)