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Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP Files Suit Against Department of Child Services After Tragic House Fire Kills 6

A Switzerland County couple lived through every parents’ worst nightmare when the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) removed their children from their care. From there, the situation only became more horrific.

DCS told the couple they could choose to leave their home or have their children removed from the home. Desperate to keep their family together, the couple left their 5 minor children – ages 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15 – in the care of their older sister (25) and her boyfriend (33). On March 17, DCS told the court it had substantiated claims of child abuse and neglect, and the judge ordered the children’s continued removal from their parents’ care. During these proceedings, DCS failed to inform the court that a police investigation yielded no evidence of criminal wrongdoing – and that the prosecutor chose not to press charges against the couple.

On March 24, a DCS case manager visited the family home and found the children to be “healthy and clean.” Days later, on March 28, a fire broke out in the home around 3 a.m. By the time first responders arrived, the flames had already engulfed the family home and all 6 of the couple’s children were dead. The eldest daughter’s boyfriend was the only survivor. Although he escaped the house, he was unable to rescue his girlfriend and her 5 siblings due to heavy smoke. The brave 25-year-old died trying to save her brothers and sisters.

A Preventable Tragedy

In a lawsuit filed against the against, the couple alleges the tragic house fire would not have happened if DCS did not remove their minor children from their care. The lawsuit also alleges violations of the couple’s 4th and 14th Amendment rights, along with abuse of process, frivolous litigation, wrongful death, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A Pattern of Wrongdoing

Unfortunately, this is not the first complaint against the Indiana DCS. The family’s attorney, Tom Blessing, is also representing another family that alleges DCS falsified reports to remove children from their care. Blessing’s firm, Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP, has received hundreds of calls from families statewide who have allegedly endured similar experiences with DCS.

As Blessing explained to IndyStar:

We're seeing example after example of DCS lying to these juvenile court judges about the basis for the removal…DCS is a rogue agency and it's removing children all over the state…We believe this is a widespread and systemic problem."

Blessing and the rest of the firm hope this high-profile litigation will be part of the solution.

Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP now has 2 very visible lawsuits against DCS, and they expect more calls to come in the following weeks.

If you have a potential claim against DCS, please do not hesitate to call the Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP legal team at (317) 434-1490 or send us a message online.

We offer FREE consultations by phone, video, or in-person, and we want to help you hold DCS accountable for its wrongdoings.