National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

K.J. v. Division of Youth and Family Services

Three minor brothers filed suit against the State of New Jersey and its Division of Youth and Family Services for allowing them to be “systematically starved” in a state-approved foster home. The suit claimed that defendants failed to monitor adequately the boys’ safety and well-being or provide for their basic needs and treatment while in their care.

Overview

FILE NO., COURT, AND DATE FILED

L002-895-04 (N.J. Super. Ct., Camden County, May 26, 2004); 04-3553 (SSB) (D.N.J., Jul. 23, 2004)

CITATIONS

363 F. Supp. 2d 728 (D.N.J. 2005)

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS

Marcia Robinson Lowry
Children’s Rights, Inc.
330 Seventh Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 683-2210
Fax: (212) 683-4015
mlowry@childrensrights.org

Richard Bazelon
Bazelon, Less & Feldman, P.C.
1515 Market Street, Suite 700
Philadelphia, PA 79102
(215) 568-1155
Fax: (215) 568-9319
rbazelon@bazless.com

Richard Emery
Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP
545 Madison Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10022
(212) 763-5000
Fax: (212) 763-5001
remery@ecbalaw.com

 

HISTORY AND STATUS

The suit was filed on May 26, 2004, with a simultaneous filing of a petition for appointment of Marcia Lowry, Executive Director of Children’s Rights, Inc., to serve as the children’s advocate. The fourth and oldest brother, who is nineteen years old, was represented separately and filed a separate suit.

On July 23, 2004, the case was removed to federal court. Subsequently, defendants filed motions to vacate Ms. Lowry’s appointment as guardian ad litem and to dismiss the case. On April 7, 2005, the court ruled that the damages lawsuit could proceed, denying the State’s motion to dismiss the federal constitutional claims, statutory claims under the New Jersey Child Placement Bill of Rights, and the state negligence claims.

On October 3, 2005, the state settled with the three younger boys for $7.5 million. The oldest brother’s case was settled separately for $5 million. The settlement is one of the largest damages awards ever paid by New Jersey.