Hollingsworth Kelly Wins $3.5 Million Verdict in Child Abuse Case

The father of a fatally abused toddler was awarded $3.5 million in Santa Cruz County after a jury found the child’s maternal grandfather, step-grandmother, and biological mother negligently contributed to his death. The father was represented by Tucson personal injury attorneys Louis Hollingsworth and Michael Kelly.

The defendant grandfather, a practicing physician in Nogales, Sonora, was sued for his participation in negligently directing the child’s healthcare into Mexico, where doctors who examined him were personal friends or acquaintances of his, and who did not make any contemporaneous medical reports of the consultations.

Plaintiff, a young father, and his girlfriend had broken up in August 2010, and she and the couple’s 18-month-old son moved in with her father and his wife, who lived in Rio Rico, Arizona. Three months later around Thanksgiving, the child began to suffer suspicious injuries, including a subgaleal hematoma behind the right ear and a black eye.

In January 2011, the child suffered a suspicious horizontal cut of the left wrist, which the defendant grandfather bandaged. By early February 2011 the child had suffered a spiral fracture of the left tibia, suspicious for child abuse. Shortly after this injury, Plaintiff father called CPS, initiating an investigation which resulted in a finding of no abuse.

Soon after, the mother moved with the child to Mexico with her new boyfriend. After suffering additional injuries, including a broken right tibia and a refracturing of his left tibia, on April 20, 2011, the child suffered fatal injuries to the skull. Evidence suggests the mother’s new boyfriend may have been responsible for the injuries.

“Our theory of the case involved the grandfather’s statutory duty to report suspected child abuse based on the fact that he rendered treatment to the child, and the fact that the child was living under his care,” said Mr. Hollingsworth. “These factors required reporting of suspicious injury to CPS or law enforcement.”

The jury found the doctor to be 60 percent liable, his wife, a paid caregiver of the child, was found 30 percent liable, and the mother of the child was found 10 percent liable. No liability was found against the abuser boyfriend, and in fact no evidence was presented of any wrongdoing on his part.

The mother of the child and the boyfriend are serving prison sentences in Nogales, Sonora.