Award to foster girl's estate cut

From $600,000 to $100,000. Visiting Common Pleas Judge Judith Cross has ruled to reduce the amount of money the estate of a deceased 11-year-old foster girl will get by half a million dollars.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010

 

From $600,000 to $100,000.

Visiting Common Pleas Judge Judith Cross has ruled to reduce the amount of money the estate of a deceased 11-year-old foster girl will get by half a million dollars.

Former Monroeville foster father Paul Efaw is serving three years in prison for Connre Dixon's Oct. 18, 2004 stabbing death. Attorneys originally named Efaw as a defendant in a subsequent civil lawsuit, but he was dismissed without explanation before jury selection began in the March trial.

On March 23, a jury determined the other defendants, Huron County Department of Job & Family Services (HCDJFS) and Huron County Commissioners, should pay $600,000 to Dixon's estate.

Cross, in her ruling filed Tuesday, wrote that the $600,000 verdict was "excessive and is against the manifest weight of the evidence ... that Connre Dixon was conscious from the time she was first stabbed until she died.

"While the coroner could and did testify that Connre may have lived five or six minutes; she did not testify to any degree of medical certainty that Connre was conscious and able to feel pain and suffering," the judge continued. "No one else testified on this matter. Therefore, the award of damages for and suffering is not justifiable under the law."

Toledo attorney Joan Szuberla represented the county in the civil trial.

"We're pleased the jury lost its way, because we believe that's what happened," Szuberla said. "I can't speak for the judge, but that's some of the language she used."

The Toledo attorney explained Cross' ruling by saying there had to be evidence someone witnessed Dixon's "conscious" pain and suffering.

"The key word is conscious," Szuberla said. "You can't speculate. There has to be evidence."

Current commissioner Mike Adelman was a defendant in the lawsuit, as were former commissioners Terry Boose and Ardeth Chupps.

Adelman called Cross' ruling "a favorable decision" in respect to the county and its insurance company, County Risk Sharing Authority (CORSA), but declined further comment. CORSA is expected to pay for the lawsuit. Adelman explained that CORSA is administered through the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio and is part of a consortium with about 60 other Ohio counties.

"They handle legal matters for counties," he added.

Attorney Jim Martin, who represented Dixon's estate, argued that HCDJFS violated the girl's right to safety by improperly placing her in Efaw's home. Efaw, during the trial, denied allegations of what Martin called "bizarre" behavior, such as telling another child to "play with his thing" after Efaw put his finger through his zipper.

After the jury came back with the $600,000 verdict, Martin said he was "completely elated," calling it "an indictment on what's been going on" with HCDJFS. He was unavailable for comment this morning.

Martin has 21 days to tell the court if he agrees with Cross' decision. "In the event the Plaintiff does not agree, (the) Defendants are awarded a new trial on the issue of damages," the judge wrote.

Comments

xxxxx (Anonymous)

This decision doesn't suprise me at all. You would of thought the judge would rule in the girls favor, since HCDJFS are the ones who placed this child in this nutcases house.

But like i said before it doesn't suprise me at all to what goes on over there anymore.

You have clerks that work in child support who divulge case information to people who don't need to know. You have clerks in child support who use their computers to access personal information on people for no reason.
You have clerks in child support who recieve day care assistance because they are telling who ever they get it from that they aren't recieving any support from their husband. Which is a total lie. The husband has signed receipts.
You have clerks in child support who are shown special treatment inregards to child support because they work there.
I think someone there needs to evaluate there procedures and find out what is going on and if anything happened that wasn't suppose to happen somebody needs to be fired.

Oh did i tell you that there is a certain Dr. in NOrwalk who pays over $3400 a month in child support. HOw did i know that? The clerk in child support told me.

me (Anonymous)

Well this is amazing. As a friend of one of the jury members let me just say something. Did the jury want the family of this girl to get that money-NO-they didnt want her so why should they benefit from her death. The point of the verdict and an award of that much money was to make sure Huron County Job and Family Service did not do this to another child, by putting them in a unsafe enviroment. Someone needs to speak for the children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

xxxxxx (Anonymous)

I agree, Huron County Job and Family Services should have to pay that. Just to teach them a lesson. But you know what, they can't even keep their own house in order let alone place a child in a good home. You have employees doing whatever they want, whenever they want to do it. They use County assets to find out information they don't need to know. You have one employee recieving daycare assistance who isn't entitled to it. Thats not to mention all the talking that is done about confidential cases that she works on.

Why surprised? ...

This so-called "family" didn't deserve a dime. They wanted nothing to do with the girl while she lived, but wanted to profit from her death.

nice attitude (...

Yea xxxxxx, let's teach 'em a lesson! Sounds like a comment from someone who had a run in with HCDJFS. Did they teach you a lesson?

xxxxx (Anonymous)

I agree the family shouldn't get the money, but Huron County Job and Family Services needs to pay the orginal verdict. But like someone said before, they can't even keep their house straight let alone find a good place for a child to live.

me again (Anonymous)

No never had a run in with HCDJFS I have a job, I pay my taxes to pay them to do a job!!!! Not put an innocent child in an unsafe enviroment with someone who had child abuse allegations against him and the child ended up dead. So dose her no good family deserve the money? I beleive I said NO in my original post. But something needs to wake those ppl up out there. A child is dead because they dropped the ball.

xxxxxx (Anonymous)

No they haven't taught me a lesson. They have this holier than tho attitude, but they go against everything that they preach. And like i said before they can't even keep there own people in line so what do you expect? The clerk in child support just does whatever she wants, when she wants to do it. Well they did make her start using a time card because she was late all the time. But that is about the only thing they have done to her. And here is the sad thing. How would i know all this stuff if i wasn't told? I don't work there, i couldn't find out the information if i wanted to.

Who really pays...

I hate to point this out, but to "make the HCDFS pay" really just makes tax payers pay. It's not like the $600,000 or now the $100,000 was going to come out of anyone's pocket. It will be paid through the county's liability insurance policy, and if the county's insurance rates go up, either programs that benefit tax payers will get cut or taxes increased. This isn't a private company that's going to get taken down like the tobacco industry, the HCDJFS is not going to be bankrupted and will continue to be funded and, in the long run, the taxpayers fund the department. So the reduction of the verdict, while it might not "feel" as nice for some people, is better for the county and the taxpayers.

me again (Anonymous)

I just hope I live until my children are grown so they never have to depend on this agency for anything. Apparently in Huron county the important thing is how much the tax payers have to pay.

re: me again (A...

I was not trying to say the only important thing is how much tax payers have to pay. All I was pointing out was that a big verdict against the county wasn't going to make any difference in how the agency was run, it wasn't going to be some magical wake up call like you all hoped because it is a private agency and they would get the money for the verdict somewhere that wasn't their own pockets. The truth is it if does hurt the agency cuts would target the programs is does provide, whether anyone feels they do those programds well or not isn't the point, and by extension the taxpayers.

re: me again (A...

Sorry for the typo, I meant to say it was not a private company but a public agency.

me again (Anonymous)

I understand ur point. I get very upset with these cases that involve children. This child was not wanted by her own family. Then the county just puts her in a home where she ends up dead. What a horrible thing. I just wish that those who dropped the ball here would be made to pay for what they did.

newshound (Anon...

This, again, is a poor account of the story in the Reflector. Go check out the Morning Journal for a more detailed news article.

Kay (Anonymous)

This money should go to a fund for abused children not to her so called family.

JuryMember (Ano...

I was on the jury for this case. No we didn't want the money to be awarded to Connre's family, but that is not something we could decide. What we could decide is how much HCDJFS would have to pay in order to be punished for the things they neglected to do in Connre's foster case. We spent hours deliberating the amount to which they should be responsible for. But the fact of the matter is, a price cannot be put on a young childs life that HCDJFS neglected to protect.

JuryMember (Ano...

I think the case that needs looked at again is the murder case in which Paul Efaw was only sentenced to 2-3 years in prison.

pi4life (Anonymous)

Just like i said before. Its another case of Huron County Job and Family Services just doing what they want to. That place needs leadership. Someone to take control of it and not let its employees do whatever they want to.

I wish someone with some authority would read this article and start asking questions. They just let their people do whatever they want. And then you give them the means to access information whenever they want it. Their should be certain protocol on using the different data bases. Like i said before and will keep saying every chance i get. The people in Huron County Jobs and Family Services just do whatever they want with no reprocussions.

re:xxxxx (Anon...

It sounds to me like you seriously need to report this information to the proper people. That is a violation of confidentiality and they could be reprimanded for this. My family has had to deal with child support also and my husband, who is unable to work due to many medical conditions beyond our control, lost his license for a few hundred dollars.

get a clue (Ano...

You want HCDJFS to pay, well opening up OUR pocket books is not the way. People, the tax payers are paying that judgment not the staff at Huron County JFS. If you want them to pay, demand the Commissioners do their job and clean house of the dead weight. When a judgment is levied on a government agency that money comes from you and me and all other Americans. They are funded at the local, state and federal level. So we the tax payers are paying for their mistakes. Start at the top and work your way down Commissioner and let's clean out the dead weight.

How sad that......

the family of this little girl will profit from her death. I worked with the mother, she didnt take care of the kids because drugs, alcohol and identity theft and theft were some of the things that were more important. People had hope that with the kids in foster care they would be better off. Instead she was sent to her death.

melissa (Anonymous)

Regaurdless how the parents were Conor had brothers whom loved her very much and I feel that they deserve compensation !!!!I knew and loved Conor very much.I feel that it is sad how people are saying so called family. Just because they were too young to do anything about it she had family that loved her. And reguardless what her mom was dealing with she obviously lovede her too because she took her own life just one year later. Just because there is no proof that did suffer the same is true there is no proof that she didnt.And what about the pain and suffering she sustained before that day from that poor excuse for a human being?????? And why the hell does he only get 2-3 years for murder when people who sell drugs do longer than that/????????? SAD I Pray God spanks the one who handed down that ruling

xxxxx (Anonymous)

I tried to talk to the supervisor but they don't want to here anything. They think that she walks on water. So i did my part. I guess the only thing that i could do is call the Dr. personally and tell him that his case is being talked about openly by one of huron county job and family services employees and let him take it from there. But you know what, i still don't think anything would come of it. Like i said before, the bosses at that place have no backbone at all.

common sence!! ...

Are you out of your mind!!!!! HOw in the H@ll can you possibly say you don't know if she was alive long enough to have suffered! Do you realise how totaly ignorant that sounds SHE DIED for Gods sake how much more do you have to suffer. If this judge is re-elected i also will become a believer in the water must be tainted in Nortucky!!!

this county nee...

after reading the article and the coments i wonder what is going on out there. i agree with the one about the length of imprisoment. i thought if you murdered someone you got life. its pretty clear to me, looking at the size of the man in comparsion to the girl, who did what. first of all how did this household ever get approved for child care? when they had problems of their own. Why she stayed with this nut is beyond me. efaw is a case in its self. but its too bad he can not be tried again. and put away for ever so he can never, never, never hurt anyone again. and i agree the department should have to anwser for their many many mistakes in handling cases, and in their choice of employees and their big mouths. i keep asking myself whats wrong with this picture.

from a distance...

As a former reporter in the area, but keeping in touch with what is happening in your county, it appears some changes are happening or being made at HCDJFS. The former director of the agency is gone and replaced. The former supervisor of children's services is gone and replaced, and another supervisor recently retired. Three positions were eliminated and one employee was terminated, although she has a pending lawsuit. I can tell you that because of civil service laws and union contracts making big sweeping changes is basically impossible. Although it may take some time and patience, it appears that evaluations are continuing that may lead to further changes.

I'll BETTE it i...

Isn't 'from a distance' a song by that Midler old lady chick?

to melissa (Ano...

melissa her mother didn't take her live because she lost her daughter. She overdosed one too many times just like when her daughter was alive.

swiss family......

peole should be outraged that any judge overrides what a jury decides.Obviously an informed group of 12 people,heard all of the evidence in the case, and determined that the family deserved $600,000.00 why would, or should any judge ever be allowed to override that decision? why did they go through the pretense of having a jury involved in the first place, if a judge had already predetermined what this little girl's life was worth

outragious? (An...

The only thing that is outragious, swiss family, is your post. And who woke you up? This story is no longer news, it's days old.

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