SOURCE: Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A.

September 27, 2007 14:50 ET

Jury Awards Young Girl Monies for Sexual Abuse While in State Care

Molestation of Then 5-Year-Old Committed by DCF Worker

JACKSONVILLE, FL--(Marketwire - September 27, 2007) - A judge has awarded $788,421.10 to a now 12-year-old girl in a civil suit filed in Duval County against a former Department of Children and Families employee, after a jury verdict for the plaintiff.

The jury found that Louis Templeman violated the plaintiff's civil rights when she was five years old by sexually molesting her while working as a Child Protective Investigator for DCF.

"It was DCF's responsibility to ensure that this girl was protected and kept safe from harm, certainly from its own employees, and they failed miserably. The last person she should have had to worry about hurting her, was the person who was supposed to be protecting her," said the plaintiff's attorney Brian Cabrey, of the Jacksonville law firm Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A., who tried the case with Co-Counsel Joel Fass, a partner in the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A.

The incident occurred in July 2000, while the minor was being transported to emergency shelter care, but was not reported until a year later, when she disclosed the information to a therapist.

"I can't even begin to imagine the emotional pain this little girl has suffered," Fass said. "The jury recognized it, and now the State needs to pay the judgment."

By statute, the State's Department of Financial Services, Division of Risk Management must pay judgments in civil rights suits filed against State employees while acting within the course and scope of their employment.

"This is the first foster care case that has gone to trial in Florida under this particular statute (42 USC Section 1983)," said children's rights expert Howard Talenfeld, who has worked on this case for both law firms, and is also president of Florida's Children First, a non-profit, statewide child advocacy group. "Now, we're able to recover more than the $100,000 -- the statutory cap for negligence."

DCF fired Templeman due to allegations of sexually abusing another young child, for which he is currently serving 10 years in state prison.

About Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A.:

With more than 100 years of collective legal experience, the Jacksonville, Florida-based law firm of Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A. specializes in the areas of aviation law, divorce and matrimonial law, custody and dependency matters, child advocacy, civil rights, personal injury, wrongful death, products liability law, medical and professional malpractice law and criminal law. For more information, visit www.zisser.net.

About Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A.:

Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A. is a 30-year old Fort Lauderdale law firm focusing its practice in the areas of governmental relations, lobbying, corporate, litigation and administrative law. The firm's litigation practice group handles commercial, civil rights, employment discrimination and child advocacy matters in both trial and appellate levels. It has offices in both Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee. For more information, call (954) 492-4010 in Fort Lauderdale or (850) 577-0398 in Tallahassee, or visit www.ctflaw.com.

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