Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero Wins $485M Award in Foster Child Sex Abuse Case

Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero with co-counsel Faddoul Cluff Hardy and Conaway (Josh Conaway) and Claggett & Sykes (Sean Claggett) and Harada & Winters (Nikko Harada) has won a $485-million jury award in a foster child sex abuse lawsuit brought against several defendants who the jury found enabled the sexual abuse of a young child. Attorney Michael Hart was the lead lawyer from the firm on this case. He and the entire firm is very proud of the outcome, which secured justice for the young girl

Important Case Details

Defendants Desert Hills, FamilyWorks, and Acadia Healthcare Company Inc., placed our client into the care of treatment foster parents Clarence and Debbie Garcia when the child was 8. This decision was made despite a long history of allegations from numerous foster children that Clarence Garcia had molested them. While living in the Garcia home, our client – who is still a minor and whose identity remains anonymous – was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Clarence.

When the news of the abuse broke, Clarence was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty. He was initially sentenced to only 20 years of probation with no jail time. Without dwelling on the seemingly light sentencing requirements, the criminal justice system cannot secure all types of justice, which is why filing a civil lawsuit was so important.

After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated on the damages that would be appropriate given the unthinkable harm that was inflicted upon the child. The final award included $80 million in compensatory damages, $400 million in punitive damages against the corporate defendants, and $5 million in punitive damages against Clarence Garcia.

The investigation and lawsuit against the corporate defendants followed a New Mexico state investigation that resulted in FamilyWorks and Desert Hills ceasing operations in New Mexico. Attorney Hart said, “[w]e are hopeful that this action will force all the companies involved and any entities that promise to care for our most vulnerable citizens – foster children - to improve their procedures, so no child is ever put into such a dangerous foster home ever again. For over 30 years this law firm has litigated cases for abused and neglected children. With each lawsuit we try to cause the changes necessary to prevent child abuse, and improve the conditions and circumstances of every at-risk child. The jury in this case has made tomorrow and the next day and the day after, a little bit better for every child who is at risk of abuse, or is placed in foster care. Every child should know that she or he has the right to be heard, to be believed, and to be protected. The jury, through their verdict made sure that happened today.”

For more information about this lawsuit and important case result, you can click here to read a full article from KRQE News. If you would like to speak with an attorney from Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero about a claim or lawsuit, then please don’t hesitate to call us at (505) 806-1780. We offer free, confidential initial case evaluations for inquiring clients.