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Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc. & The Devereux Foundation Pay Sexually Abused Children $4.8 Million

Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc. and The Devereux Foundation, hire to provide foster care and related services for the Florida Department of Children and Family, agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle claims arising out of the sexual abuse of a minor child.  Lawyers for the minor children alleged that Eckerd and Devereux grossly mishandled the minors’ case file during a routine reunification process and that their negligence resulted in the minor children being placed in the custody of an adult male who had a verified history of sexually abusing a child.

Allegations included claims that case managers and supervisors for The Devereux Foundation failed to properly complete a home study and reunification report, blatantly ignored background screening checks, and misrepresented facts to the Court.  Viñas and DeLuca argued that even after Devereux uncovered multiple errors in the reunification process, they did nothing to correct their mistakes or find alternative care for the minor.

Lawyers representing the minor child reached a settlement with Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc. and The Devereux Foundation after years of litigation.  In 2018, the judge overseeing the litigation ruled that the minor’s compensatory damages were “uncapped” under Florida law if the jury determined either defendant acted with culpable negligence.

Based on evidence uncovered during the litigation, the Court later permitted punitive damages claims to be asserted against The Devereux Foundation.  The case was settled shortly thereafter, before trial, for the sum of $4.8 million.