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Jury Reaches $166 Million Verdict For Abused New Jersey Boy

A 4-year-old child was awarded $166 million by a jury last month in a lawsuit against the New Jersey Department of Children and Families Division of Youth and Family Services for its failure to properly protect the boy, who sustained severe brain damage after an alleged beating at the hands of his father.

In 2009, Jadiel Velesquez was brought to the hospital with unexplained bruising. According to lawyers involved in the case, a doctor at the hospital made a finding that the bruises were the result of abuse, but the child was nevertheless returned to his mother’s home. Weeks later, in July 2009, Velesquez was beaten again, this time suffering brain damage that left him requiring 24-hour care.

Velesquez’s grandparents sued the state agency, claiming that the original bruises were inflicted by the child’s father and that the agency negligently failed to remove him from the home.

In a criminal case, the child’s father pleaded guilty to the beating and was sentenced to six years in prison, a term he is currently serving.

According to a memo by the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, Allison Blake, her agency is currently undergoing a review of the verdict and has not yet decided whether or not to appeal. The memo also said that major reforms had been made to the state child welfare system.