October 22, 2009 - Suit Seeks $8.5 Million for Brain Damaged Child

A civil suit seeking $8.5 million for a brain-damaged California boy hurt by the man caring for him as an infant may go to trial this week, authorities said.

The child was in the court-supervised foster care of Melvin Snell of Alameda County, presumed to be his father, from birth in August 2005 through December 2005, the Oakland Tribune reported Wednesday.

The child was found "listless and unresponsive" at Snell's home Dec. 21, 2005, and was determined to have suffered injuries, including to his brain, the newspaper said.

The attorney representing the child's interests is suing the county's Social Services Agency and a social worker, asking for $8.5 million in damages. The suit alleges the county did not adequately perform criminal background checks or properly visit the child's living arrangements to make sure he was not in danger.

The county said its Social Services Agency visited Snell's home and did not know Snell had been discovered not to be the infant's father. It said it also did not know the child's mother, Evelyn Franklin, was living with Snell, in violation of the case plan for the child when it was placed with Snell, who was later convicted on a criminal charge in the case. Franklin had a narcotics violations criminal record, the newspaper said.

The case is now in mediation, but could go to trial Friday, the Tribune said.

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