In a recent article Daniel Pollack, a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work in New York City and a frequent expert witness in child welfare lawsuits and Cameron R. Getto a shareholder with Zausmer, August & Caldwell, P.C. in Farmington Hills, MI who focuses his practice on representing
nonprofits, health care professionals and human services organizations provides an in-depth analysis of the actual presentation and use of state child welfare report cards.
While report cards are often useful in providing a good overview of child welfare agencies’ strengths and weaknesses, their condensed content can sometimes be misinterpreted or used unfairly. For example comparisons between States are often misleading because each State has a different methodology to produce its report card. Politicians and media are big users of report cards. They mostly use the rankings and the grades to support their message. Report cards have also been used very effectively in litigation and the data underlying the report cards have affected court decisions throughout the United States far more than the report cards themselves.
Failing to call an expert witness in criminal child maltreatment cases can be legal malpractice that can result in a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice. In a recent article Daniel Pollack, a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work in New York City analyzes when a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel may be supported in the child welfare legal arena. To do so, Pollack uses the example of People of the State of Michigan v. Ackley (2015). In this specific case Leo Ackley was convicted by a jury of first-degree felony murder and first-degree child abuse following the death of his girlfriend’s young daughter. During the trial five medical experts testified the daughter died as the result of injuries that were caused intentionally. Ackley’s attorney didn’t call any expert to refute the prosecution expert testimony or to support the defendant’s theory of the case. Ackley’s attorney’s decision not to retain an expert witness for his client was considered by the Michigan Supreme Court “ineffective assistance of counsel”.
Download the article here
In a recent article, Daniel Pollack, a professor at the School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, in New York City & Cameron R. Ghetto, Esq. discuss the dilemma of whether a department of human services employee who is sued is entitled to their own attorney. They point out that of critical importance is the type of claim asserted. Is it predicated upon negligence? Is it an intentional tort? They point out that given the unique nature of each lawsuit and the laws that apply, no one prescription applies to all situations. The following topics are covered; When Employees Should Request their Own Attorney? Financial Considerations; When the Government is Likely to Provide Counsel for an Individual Employee; Conflict Waivers; Ethical and Substantive Legal Considerations. They conclude that “An attorney may represent multiple clients if their interests are not directly adverse to each other. However, the attorney must explain any circumstances that might cause a client to question the attorney’s undivided allegiance. Similarly, if there are questions of conflict of interest the attorney seeking to undertake the representation must satisfactorily resolve them. During litigation, many states allow the court to raise the question if it believes the attorney has failed to do so.” Read Complete Article. Deciding when to assign separate counsel to public service agency co-defendants.
When a vulnerable individual is injured or dies because of negligent supervision the term “line of sight” is often used. In a recent article, Daniel Pollack, a professor at the School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, in New York City, looks at the meaning of “line of sight”.
If an individual requires continuous line of sight supervision, what does it mean exactly? Does it mean that a supervisor must constantly have his or her eyes on the individual? Does it mean that a person must have an unobstructed view of the room where the individual is? Daniel Pollack relied on his previous experience as an attorney for the Ohio Department of Youth Services to explain that the interpretation of “line of sight” varies depending on cases.
The complete article can be downloaded here
Negligence often results from unintentional wrongdoing by employees in the group home or from denial of care or delayed care. A group home can also be sued when employees fail to protect a resident from injuring himself or from being injured by other residents.
Abuse is unfortunately also common in group homes and is mostly related to sexual misconduct especially toward minors.
Many parents who suffer mental illness are still fit to take care of their children. However in some cases the mental illness of a parent may be such that it may impair the emotional development of a child and his or her physical health. In such cases, the court may restrict parenting time. In a recent article, Daniel Pollack, a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work in New York City explains how a determination of mental illness or instability may affect affect the court’s decision as to child custody. The article also describes how the court is assessing the mental fitness of the parent. It also explains how difficult it can be for the court to act in the best interest of the child while respecting the parent’s right to privacy and confidentiality and points out how human service agencies can help in providing useful and objective information that will serve the child’s best interest.
The complete article can be downloaded here
Negligent safety practices such as not doing enough while checking drivers backgrounds are putting Uber users’s safety at risk. The popular car service company just settled a lawsuit that was filed against it two years ago by the District Attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles over the claim that the company misled clients on its safety practices and the methods used to screen drivers.
Uber will have to pay $10 million split between the District Attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles and another $15 million if it doesn’t comply with the terms of the settlement after two years.
The lawsuit alleged Uber doesn’t do enough to protect its passengers. Drivers are screened by a third party and don’t need to provide fingerprints. Last year third party background checks failed to uncover the criminal records of 25 drivers in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In New York City, too many kids are seriously injured or even die every year because their day caregivers ignore safety regulations and break laws according to a special investigation that is being published Today in the New York Daily News. The newspaper investigated the 11,513 licensed day care centers in the city and found that “The New York City day care system is plagued with terrifying overcrowding and lack of oversight, putting the lives of children across the city in danger.” Over the last 3 years, five children died, 8 suffered serious personal injury in New York day care centers. Additionally 9 kids were reported lost while under the supervision of day care staff. Adding to the danger are also the increasing number of illegal day care centers which are operating out of apartments and houses without any license.
According to New York State Law a caregiver can not take care more than 6 children. However because care givers are paid by child most of them ignore this rule and put money ahead of child safety. Hundreds of complaints related to overcrowding are being filed every year. Kids don’t have enough space to sleep. They are getting injured because they are not proprely supervised or get lost in parks and play grounds.
According to the investigation, even though the number of negligent day care centers that are being shut down by the city nearly tripled between 2011 and 2015, some day care centers that previously committed gross negligence are still in operation. For example Kathy’s Day Care in Elmhurst, Queens had a special needs child leave the facility without being noticed. The child was found wandering in the middle of Junction Boulevard by a car driver who luckily was able to break in time to avoid hitting him. Kathy received a citation but still continues to operate. Would you feel comfortable leaving your child there?
A recent accident at the New York Nuclear power plant Indian Point has nearby residents worried about their health and the safety of their water. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered an investigation after a tritium-tainted water leak from the plant resulted in an increase of 65,000% of radioactivity in the ground. The New York nuclear plant is located in Buchanan, Westchester, 45 miles away from Manhattan in a densely populated area. According to Entergy, the plant owner, the radiation hasn’t migrated off-site and doesn’t pose a safety threat. However Governor Cuomo said in a statement that this last incident was unacceptable and that “This failure continues to demonstrate that Indian Point cannot continue to operate in a manner that is not protective of public health and the environment.”
Read more in the New York Times