Brannock Berman & Seider Secures Appellate Affirmance of Jury Verdict in Child-Abuse Trial
The Second District Court of Appeal upheld a Sarasota County jury’s decision to find the Department of Children & Families negligent in the near-fatal stabbing of a six-year-old child by her mentally ill mother.
The case presented horrible facts. Suffice it to say, the plaintiffs, who are the child’s grandparents, alleged many ways in which DCF failed to follow various statutory and regulatory requirements that could have helped prevent the stabbing. Among them: failing to identify or speak to the mother in a visit to the house the night before the incident and failing to review the mother’s extensive police history.
After the jury found for the plaintiffs and the trial court denied DCF’s motion for directed verdict, the agency brought an appeal raising nine issues. DCF challenged evidentiary rulings from trial, quarreled with the jury instructions, argued over sovereign immunity—anything and everything that was a feature at trial became an issue on appeal. Methodically and meticulously responding to each of the nine issues, Brannock Berman & Seider explained why none involved error. Following the extensive written briefing and an oral argument, the Second District issued a per curiam affirmance, leaving the jury’s $28 million verdict untouched.