Abused Boy Receives Largest Personal Injury Verdict in The New Jersey

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Jadiel Velesquez was brought to the hospital by his grandparents. He had unexplained bruises, which the grandparents claimed were inflicted by the boy’s father. The four year old boy was returned to his parent’s home despite a doctor’s find of abuse. Weeks later, Jadiel’s father beat him again, leaving Jadiel blind, severely brain damaged, and dependent on 24-hour-care.

Jadiel’s grandparents sued the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), accusing the agency of failing to remove the boy from his home after the grandparents repeatedly urged DYFS to do so.

In December of 2013, jurors found DYFS workers should have protected Jadiel from a father with a history of violent outbursts, and handed down a $166 million verdict against the agency. It was the largest personal injury verdict in New Jersey history, and the largest verdict against a child protective services agency in the nation’s history.

In March 2014, a New Jersey state judge reduced the record-setting jury award by $64 million. The judge said jurors erred when they pegged Jadiel’s future medical and life care costs at $105 million, and instead, the cost of the boy’s future care should be $75 million. The $75 million figure is an expert witness’s estimate based on Jadiel’s life expectancy.

After knocking the total down to roughly $137 million, the judge then reduced the portion of the award leveled against employees of the state agency by 25 percent. This brought the original $166 million verdict to $102 million. If the $102 million award stands, it will still remain the largest in the state’s history.

Expert witnesses are critical in assessing damages in personal injury cases. Occupational Assessment Services (OAS) can create a Life Care Plan, which is necessary to document damages in cases involving catastrophic injuries. Call OAS at (973) 365-2227 so we can evaluate and discuss your case.