Tulare County settles $32 million child negligence case

Nic Garcia Image
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Tulare County settles $32 million child negligence case
The child's grandmother said she started to notice the neglect when he was just a couple months old.

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tulare County has agreed to pay $32 million to a Lindsay family after the family's lawyer says an infant boy suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the county's Child Welfare Services' failure to respond to reports of child abuse.

At 10 months, Journey was found unresponsive and hospitalized. He was even placed on life support. He survived even after doctors took him off of life support, but his grandmother had been reporting abuse for months before the hospitalization.

"There's no amount of money that will bring him back," said Patricia Sanchez, Journey's grandma.

Journey was severely malnourished, which caused significant brain damage.

Sanchez said she started to notice the neglect when he was just a couple months old.

"It was so heartbreaking. A child cannot speak or defend themselves. It got to a point where I had to say this is not right," said Sanchez.

Sanchez said her complaints to Tulare County Child Welfare Services were ignored.

"It was very confusing and I wasn't understanding why nothing was being done," said Sanchez.

She and her lawyer said Tulare County tried covering up the lack of response by Child Welfare Services, including forging documents.

"Certain records that were critical to the case, I had two versions of them. One dated before my lawsuit. And another, the same record, after my lawsuit. And A did not match B," said Wyatt Vespermann an attorney with Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi, LLP.

Vespermann said some of the employees at C.W.S. tried intimidating Journey's grandmother into dropping her case.

"I know that they're doing that to other families. I just feel it. I know there's other families out there and I know there's other children out there," said Sanchez.

The county also agreed to implement policies and software that will enable the agency to better track and follow-up on prior complaints of alleged child abuse.

Patricia said this is the momentum for the creation of Journey's Law - which, once written, she hopes will help prevent similar cases in the future.

Action News reached out to Tulare County Health & Human Services for comment, we have not heard back yet.

Tulare County Health & Human Services sent Action News a statement, saying: "On July 22, 2022 through voluntary mediation, the County of Tulare entered into a settlement agreement with Patrizia Sanchez, grandmother of J.G., a minor child who suffered a severe health crisis on August 1, 2020, while in the care of his parents. The County is sorry for what J.G. has experienced. It is a senseless tragedy that will affect J.G. for the remainder of his life and he will remain in our thoughts. The amount of the settlement approved by the Court is $32 million and will be used for J.G.'s necessary lifelong health and wellness care. The County of Tulare acted and settled in the best interests of everyone involved."

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