$8.5 million verdict against CPS in question

FRESNO, Calif.

Seth Ireland was murdered four years ago and a jury decided Fresno County was partially responsible. CPS mistakes allowed Lebaron Vaughn to commit the murder of Seth Ireland just after Christmas of 2008.

A jury decided that this year, and divided the responsibility like this: 65% to Fresno County for those mistakes; 25% to Vaughn; And 10% to Rena Ireland -- Seth's mother, who admitted she lied to get CPS off the scent of abuse by Vaughn.

"For the jury to saddle them with more than double the culpability of the individual who murdered this young man is unexplainable to me," said Judge Bruce Smith as he threw out the jury's division of responsibility Friday, calling it a miscarriage of justice.

Judge Smith left the jury's $8.5 million verdict intact, but ordered a new trial on who should pay it.

Lawyers for the county are still hoping for a new trial on the entire case, claiming CPS shouldn't be held responsible for not pursuing every clue that Seth was in danger.

"The courts don't find liability of social workers when social workers do not remove a child from the parent's home," said James Weakley, who is defending the county.

But Warren Paboojian, who sued the county on behalf of Seth's father, Joe Hudson, says CPS missed too many signs and violated too many mandatory duties.

"The county of Fresno dropped the ball on this case, however you slice it, however you look at it," he said.

A new trial could happen as soon as next month. Hudson, meanwhile, is charged with burglary in another court case, but he was out of jail Friday and in court for the fight over his son's death.

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