Wrongful Death Suits Against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

Published on May 18th, 2019

The number of children that die while the subject of an investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or while being monitored by the agency has gone up in recent years. Now, two wrongful death suits have been filed against the state agency on behalf of children that died while in the system. Wrongful death is a death caused by the negligent, reckless or willful conduct of another. Wrongful death is a civil wrong and those liable can be responsible for monetary damages.

The first case was brought on behalf of Gizzell Ford. Gizzell was 8 years old and living with her father and grandmother when she died in July 2013. A caseworker visited the home soon before Gizzell was found dead. Three weeks before she died, a state pediatrician noted a bruise on the child, but, did not report it. Gizzell’s mother and grandfather have brought a wrongful death suit in Cook County Circuit Court claiming that Gizzell lived in an unsanitary environment and was tortured before she died. The basis of the suit is that DCFS missed signs of abuse that eventually led to the child’s death.

The second case involved Gina Presley. Gina was three years old when she died from injuries sustained in her home. Before the child’s death in March 2013, Gina’s maternal grandfather made multiple reports to DCFS and the Oak Forest police that she was being abused by her mother’s boyfriend. The child’s death was caused by blunt force trauma. Gina’s paternal grandfather has now brought suit against DCFS claiming that the agency is responsible because they failed to prevent the child’s death even amid allegations of abuse. DCFS claimed sovereign immunity, in other words, that they could not be sued for wrongful death because they are an arm of the state. The plaintiff’s attorneys then discontinued the suit and plan to file a new action in the Illinois Court of Claims.

If you are the loved one of the victim of wrongful death, it is imperative that you seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney. Contact the Chicago attorneys at Ryan, Ryan & Viglione for a consultation today by calling (847)244-1436.

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