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Florida Contractors Pay $4.45 Million to Settle Rape Claim

Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc. & The Devereux Foundation pay sexually abused minor $4.45 million

Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc. and The Devereux Foundation, who provide foster care and related services for the Florida Department of Children and Family, agreed to pay $4.45 million to a minor child who was sexually abused.  Lawyers for the minor child, Viñas & DeLuca, PLLC, alleged that Eckerd and Devereux grossly mishandled the minor’s case file during a routine reunification process and that their negligence resulted in the minor child being placed in the custody of an adult male who had a verified history of sexual abuse.  

“This is by far one of the saddest cases I have ever handled,” stated Attorney Frank Viñas, who represented the minor child. “The physical and mental abuse suffered by our client was horrific and should never have occurred.”

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.  Lawyers 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.

Parties 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.  

Viñas & DeLuca is a Florida-based law firm dedicated solely to representing victims of personal injury, sexual abuse, vehicle accidents, wrongful death, and medical malpractice.  The firm’s partners have over 30 years of combined experience representing plaintiffs in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases.