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Federal Class Action Filed Against SC’s DSS

Child Welfare Activists File Federal Class Action Lawsuit Against South Carolina’s Department of Social Services

federal class action lawsuitOn Monday, January 12th, a group of child welfare activists filed a federal class action lawsuit involving 11 children who spent several years abused in the foster system in South Carolina, due to failures in the Department of Social Services.

The class action lawsuit against South Carolina’s DSS was filed in a federal court in Charleston. The plaintiffs, represented by Children’s Rights, the advocacy group that filed the lawsuit, range in age between 2 and 17 years old, and have been under the state’s care through DSS for years.

“As a direct result of longstanding, well-documented failures, plaintiff children have been and continue to be harmed physically, psychologically and emotionally and continue to be placed at ongoing risk of such harms while in D.S.S. custody,” the lawsuit said, referring to the Department of Social Services. “D.S.S. is re-victimizing the very children it is charged to protect.”

The federal class action lawsuit claims three specific deficiencies that led to systemic failures in the DSS: overwhelming caseloads for employees, especially social workers; poor healthcare services for South Carolina’s wards; and lack of decent foster homes.

Children who went through the foster care system through SC’s DSS were reportedly overmedicated to control behavioral disorders; fed moldy or expired food; and suffered cruel and unusual punishment, including being left in solitary confinement.

“Foster care is supposed to be a safe haven for abused and neglected children, yet South Carolina is re-victimizing the kids it’s supposed to protect,” said Ira Lustbader, litigation director for Children’s Rights, in a prepared statement regarding the class action lawsuit. “There’s got to be accountability when longstanding systemic problems, like a severe lack of mental health services, gross over-reliance on institutions and high caseloads, continue to harm innocent children.”

However, Governor Nikki Haley has stated that she submitted several proposed reforms for DSS. The department came under heavy scrutiny several months ago when questions were raised about employees’ qualifications to work with children.

There is not a D.S.S. in this country that is not seeing the challenges that we’re seeing,” Haley said in a news conference when she appointed a new director of DSS, Susan Alford.

What Type of Case Is Appropriate for a Class Action Lawsuit?

class action is a procedural device to collect individuals’ claims that are suffering harm.  When a case is awarded class action status, it means that an individual or small group of plaintiffs will act as representatives for others who have suffered injuries similar to theirs because of actions by the same defendant.

Class Action cases we have handled include:

  • a case against the managed care industry on behalf of physicians for systematically undercutting physician claims for payment for seeing patients;
  • race-based life insurance cases against life insurance companies for charging African Americans higher rates for industrial life insurance;
  • consumer cases included suing finance companies for adding credit life insurance on to consumer loans;
  • numerous personal injuries due to one defective product;
  • a predatory lending case against the title loan industry;
  • a predatory lending case against the mortgage industry for systematically steering clients into subprime lending

The Strom Law Firm Can Help Evaluate Your Class Action Litigation

The Class Action attorneys at Strom Law Firm, LLC understand the complexities surrounding class action lawsuits. Class actions and consumer protection cases can stem from an almost unlimited variety of misconduct or defective products. Contact our law firm today for a free review of the facts of your case.  803.252.4800.



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