FORT MYERS – A suit on behalf of a child in foster care against outside contractors hired by the state of Florida will continue after a federal judge recently denied some motions to dismiss made by defendants and allowed the plaintiff to amend his complaint.
In the suit, the male foster child, S.K., accuses the contractors and two named individuals of negligence after allegedly ignoring the serious pain from his teeth and failing to provide proper dental care.
The suit, which names Children’s Network of Southwest Florida LC, Camelot Community Care, Lutheran Services Florida and Lutheran Services employees Pearl Araque, and Gwendolyn Doyle, claims all were involved in his care after he was removed from his family by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) .
The suit claims the failure to provide dental care may result in severe lifelong injuries. The suit also alleges negligence and failures under 14th Amendment rights to adequate medical care and reasonable safety.
All of the defendants asked for a dismissal of the complaints because there was a failure to state a proper claim.
U.S. District Judge John Steele of U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, in his May 7 ruling, granted the motions to dismiss by the Children’s Network and Camelot while denying the motions of the other defendants. He also gave the plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint.
Steele's order in response to the motions reveals that S.Kk and his twin sister were removed from their parents and placed in the custody of DCF.
This move was directly related to the child's "serious dental needs," which DCF claimed were not being meet. adding that the father was obtaining prescription pain drugs for himself using the child's condition.
Central to the claim is a visit S.K. made to a dentist in May 2014. The dentist recommended a tooth extraction but there was no follow up, the suit claimed.
This failure to act, the plaintiff alleges, was compounded by the fact the named defendants had seen him at home and knew he was in pain.
The suit said his condition deteriorated and he did not undergo surgery until August 2014, by which time he was diagnosed with a pain disorder that affects a nerve in the mouth causing episodes of severe, sudden and shock-like pain in one side of the face, from which he still suffers.
In his ruling to dismiss the motions by dismiss by the Children’s Network and Camelot, Steele ruled the claims against the two organizations, that they were directly involved in the actions alleged, were "sketchy."
The judge denied the motions by Lutheran Services and its two employees, ruling they do have a plausible case to answer.