The child abuse attorneys of Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero (MHS&R) have recently filed a lawsuit against the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) for enabling the murder of a young child who was knowingly placed in an unsafe living situation. Teaming with Davis & Kelin Law Firm, the federal civil rights lawsuit arises from the murder of an eight-year-old child by a caretaker chosen by the state. MHS&R is hopeful that the case will result in a just outcome as well as improved protocols and procedures within the CYFD, so no such tragedy happens ever again.
Details of the New Mexico CYFD Lawsuit
Eight-year-old Samantha Rubino and her brother M.L. were placed into the custody of her putative father, Juan Lerma, under the order of New Mexico CYFD. CYFD knew that Lerma had a long and known history of inflicting child abuse against both Samantha and her brother. A simple review of the reports already in possession of the CYFD should have made it clear that Lerma was not fit to be around his children and could be assumed as an active and present threat to their physical and mental well-being.
In August 2020, Lerma killed Samanta and tried to hide her body in a trash can. He has been convicted of her murder and was sentenced to life in prison. The criminal justice system does not secure justice or a sense of closure for Samantha’s family or the community, though, which is where the civil lawsuit against the CYFD becomes so important.
MHS&R attorneys have argued through the lawsuit that the CYFD acted with inexcusable negligence and that widespread systematic failures within the department’s procedures resulted in poor decisions that placed the children at risk. If successful, we believe the lawsuit could force the CYFD to review and improve its policies to protect other children in the future.
For more information about this case, you can click here to view a full article from KRQE News. You can also use our secure contact form to request a free, confidential consultation with our Albuquerque attorneys about a personal injury case of your own. Thank you.