One rule for him and another for her as Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses Sue Ann Arnall’s appeal

In November 2014, Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources, was ordered to pay his ex-wife Sue Ann $995.5 million in what was described as one of the biggest divorce settlements in history. With the award representing only a fraction of Mr Hamm’s estimated $18 billion empire, Sue Ann appealed, claiming that she should be entitled to a much heftier settlement due to her significant contributions during their 26-year marriage. Conversely, Harold made his own appeal, arguing that the almost $1 billion figure was excessive.

On 28/04/15, the Oklahoma Supreme Court dismissed Sue Ann’s appeal in a 7-2 decision, stating that she had forfeited her right to appeal in January, when she took possession of the marital property that had been awarded to her and cashed a cheque for $975 million. The Supreme Court did not dismiss Harold’s appeal.

The two dissenting judges branded the above decision ‘old fashioned’ and ‘draconian’. They suggested that if the only way to maintain the right to appeal was to reject the tendered cheque, this would allow the husband absolute and unfettered control over the marital property during the pendency of what could be a lengthy appeal. Not only would this provide Harold with the opportunity to deplete the marital property (admittedly a rather onerous task considering the extent of his wealth), but it would also leave Sue Ann, and other women in such a position, potentially unable to afford the cost of living in the interim period between the court ruling and the appeal. Surely it is inequitable for those who are unhappy with a court decision to have to choose between affording to live and appealing a ruling?

Not only does the Supreme Court’s ruling seem outdated, but more importantly it appears to be bias towards Harold. For if the court thinks that accepting the tendered cheque removes the right to appeal for the wife, then surely, using the same logic, writing the cheque should also remove the right for the husband. Using the basic concept of offer and acceptance, it could be argued that if there is a ‘no returns’ policy for Sue Ann, then there equally shouldn’t be room for Harold to recall the cheque that he presented to his ex-wife. It is potentially inequitable and inconsistent of the court to draw a distinction between the party’s actions.

Ironically, Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state, which means that divorce settlements must be just and reasonable. One of the big considerations for judges dealing with such disputes is what each spouse needs in order to move forward following their separation. Understandably, the judges who reviewed Sue Ann’s appeal would have found it very difficult to sympathise with an argument, claiming a life with only $1 billion is not worth living; however, they should have also considered factors such as her contributions during the marriage, as well as providing a more impressive basis for dismissing her appeal.

Craig Box, one of Mr Hamm’s attorneys, has said that it is too early to comment on whether or not Harold will appeal. However, the likelihood is that he will not and that, instead, he will be delighted with the dismissal of his ex-wife’s appeal. There is even room to suggest that Harold was content with the initial ruling in November, and appealed against it himself simply to highlight his disdain for Sue Ann’s appeal. After all, although $995.5 million is more money than most people could ever dream of earning, it is only a minute fraction of his overall wealth and therefore he could well have been relieved with the county court’s decision.

One thing that has been made very clear by the Supreme Court’s ruling is that the Oklahoma state does not believe equity necessarily requires equality. Whereas the UK has gained a reputation for being the ‘divorce capital of the world’ due to its generous divorce settlements that often entail a 50/50 split of assets, the Oklahoma courts clearly do not mirror this approach.

Family Member a Victim of Fraud Against the Government? How to Fight Back

Fraud

(US law) Criminal acts commonly result in collateral damage. When the criminal act results in the taking of a human life, the victim’s family may be left with a lost source of income and an emotional toll that can never be overcome. In such cases, members of the immediate family may file a civil action to recover damages. Fraud against the government is no exception, although in such cases, family members have an additional option.

Suing for Wrongful Death

Wrongful death lawsuits entitle certain people, usually immediate family members, executors of an estate, or other appointed parties, to sue on behalf of a person who was killed as the result of another person’s wrongful act. A wrongful act is an illegal or tortious act. In the context of an unnecessary medical procedure, the wrongful act may be fraud; in the context of a procedure that the patient never consented to, the wrongful act may be battery.

The only difference between a person being killed by a drunk driver and by an ongoing Medicare fraud is the chain of events that led to the death and the complexity of the fact pattern. The underlying concept is the same: a wrongful act caused a death and the persons responsible are liable for damages. The law does not require that the wrongful act be directed at the decedent. It is sufficient that a wrongful act occurred and that the decedent died as a result thereof.

Suing Under the False Claims Act

If the death resulted from fraud against the government, victims have another avenue of recourse. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, more commonly known as the False Claims Act of 1863, prohibits a long list of conduct committed in furtherance of defrauding the federal government. It is unlawful, among other things, to present fraudulent claims for payment or make false statements in connection with any claims made to the federal government. Billing for unnecessary procedures or defrauding the government in sales of equipment that is claimed to meet certain specifications but does not meet those specifications is a federal crime.

The False Claims Act of 1963 creates a private right of action; any citizen can sue the offending parties for the unlawful conduct. Parties may initiate a claim under the False Claims Act by filing a qui tam action and serving it upon the U.S. Attorney General as well as the local U.S. Attorney. The government has 60 days to investigate the claim. If the government decides to pursue the claim, the plaintiff’s involvement ends and the government prosecutes the case. If the government declines to pursue the case, the plaintiff may still pursue the case privately on behalf of the government.

This opens up another avenue of recovery for victims and their families. Wrongful death lawsuits normally limit damages to expected future income; proving such damages can be difficult and a large damage award may be reduced upon appeal due to the speculative nature of such awards. In contrast, a successful qui tam action will result in a percentage of the recovery being awarded to the original plaintiff. The False Claims Act allows for recovery of treble damages and disgorgement of profits; as a result, the awards from such claims can be high. If the government takes over the case, the plaintiff may receive 15 percent of the settlement or award; if the plaintiff litigates the matter and obtains a settlement or judgment, the plaintiff may be entitled to as much as 30 percent of the damages.

Deterring future conduct is as important as obtaining compensation for a lost friend or family member. If your family member underwent unnecessary procedures or was victimized by defective products as a result of ongoing fraud against the federal government, it is likely that your family member was not the only victim. If nothing is done, your family member may not be the last. Seek legal counsel as soon as possible; consult a tort lawyer for a wrongful death claim and a whistleblower attorney to discuss the feasibility of pursuing a claim under the False Claims Act.

Valerie Stout Cyrus is a freelance writer who frequently researches claims of fraud against the government. She has found that the attorneys at the whistleblower law firm of Goldberg Kohn Ltd, at www.whistleblowersattorneys.com, are experienced in securing judgments against entities that commit fraud against the government.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20692718@N00/4038317140/

The Dangers of Aggressive Driving

aggressive driverAggressive driving: everyone has seen it. It’s the driver who gets too close behind other cars to try to push them into going faster. It’s the driver who speeds through school zones because they’re in a rush. It’s the driver who makes lane changes with too little room to do so, forcing other drivers to accommodate the aggressive driver’s poor driving. There are a few things that you can generally say about aggressive drivers and be assured that you’re correct:

 

  • They’re not as good at driving as they think
  • They endanger everyone on the road
  • They take risks that are downright stupid

 

What do you do with these drivers? Avoid them, if you can. You should also be aware of the risks that they do present so that you can anticipate what you might face when you run into one.

 

The Risks

According to the NHTSA, 60 percent of drivers that they surveyed for a study said that they feel that unsafe driving is a threat to them and their families. This is not too surprising. The NHTSA identifies some specific problems with aggressive drivers that good drivers should be aware of. For instance:

 

  • Aggressive drivers tend to not be concerned with other motorists
  • Aggressive drivers sometimes use the anonymity provided by their vehicles to vent aggression at other drivers
  • They are risk takers
  • They routinely break the law on the roads

 

All of this boils down to a portrait of a driver who is angry, a poor driver, who doesn’t really care about the welfare of other drivers and who takes risks, a habit which may be exacerbated by their frustration. These drivers pose risks that are too numerous to name one by one, but here are some of them.

 

Rear End Collisions

Aggressive drivers will ride your bumper, driving too fast and sometimes end up colliding with the vehicles in front of them.

 

Intersection Collisions

These drivers oftentimes disobey stop signs and red lights, causing wrecks and serious injuries to other drivers.

 

Violence

Aggressive drivers are typically angry, frustrated individuals who may react with anger if they are involved in a crash, even if they caused it. Be wary of this if you’re in a wreck with one.

 

Dealing with the Threat

Don’t retaliate. The best way to deal with aggressive drivers is to just let them go by and get out of their way. They can’t hurt you if you’re not near their vehicle. Aggressive driving is negligent. If you’re harmed by an aggressive driver, contact a car accident lawyer about filing a lawsuit to get compensation. No matter how much of a rush they were in or how good a driver they thought they were, aggressive drivers are responsible when they harm other motorists.

Drunk Driving: Increased or Decreased in the Last 5 Years?

One Friday night, Linda met up with some co-workers for appetizers, trivia and a few cocktails.  At the end of the night, one friend called a cab, Linda had one drink in a 3 hour period, and another friend, Joni, who left without saying good-bye, had 3 or 4 margaritas.  When Linda noticed that Joni had left the restaurant, she tried to stop her from leaving the parking lot, but her car was already gone.  Joni has a bad and dangerous habit of driving while drunk, but promises she won’t do it each time they go out for drinks.  The next morning, Linda got a call from Joni, who was calling from the police station.  Joni had been pulled over for suspicious driving, was given a breathalyzer, and was taken to jail with a BAC of 0.100 (well over the legal limit of 0.08).  After receiving a DWI, Joni told Linda that she was surprised that she had been pulled over, as she had driven at least 3 dozen times while legally drunk.  “I drive fine!” she told Linda, “The only reason I swerved was because I was trying to make a phone call.”  Linda knew that Joni’s drinking behavior was problematic and urged her to seek help.  Had Joni not been pulled over by police, she could have been responsible for the injuries or death of an innocent victim.

The Drunk Driving Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average drunk driver has driven 80 times, while intoxicated, before the first arrest.  Drunk driving is expensive (an average of $500 per adult/year) and happens far too frequently (1-in-3 people will be involved in an alcohol related crash in their lifetime).  Additionally, drunk driving is responsible for thousands of crash-related injuries and deaths each year.  Fortunately, drunk driving incidents have decreased in the last 5 years.  In 2005, there were 13, 582 drunk driving related fatalities, but five years later, in 2010, there were 10, 228.  Reports show that the number of fatalities and injuries continue to decrease.  While thousands of drunk driving related injuries and deaths are still far too many, it seems as though drivers are finally starting to “wise up” and/or enforcement is becoming stricter.  Either way, the numbers show that more lives are being spared on our roadways.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the decrease in drunk driving incidents can be partly attributed to drunk driving awareness and enforcement efforts such as the Zero Tolerance Laws.  Additionally, among major crimes, driving under the influence (DUI) has one of the highest arrest rates with more than 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010.  High rates of arrests are potentially preventing drunk driving related incidents before they occur.

Just because drunk driving, overall, has decreased, it does not mean that you should start or continue to drive while under the influence.  Drunk driving is dangerous and very difficult.  When you are impaired, you’re driving becomes impaired.  Reaction time slows down, judgment is poor, and depth perception is inaccurate, which can all lead to an accident that could result in injuries or even death, leaving YOU with the legal ramifications.  Don’t take the risk, don’t increase the problem, don’t drink and drive!

Signs Your Loved One Might Be the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

nursing home neglectEvery person wishes they were in the situation where they could care for their parent when it is needed, but the truth is that most people just don’t have the time or the resources to do so. Because of this there is a large industry that caters toward caring for elderly patients who need constant observation or have pressing medical needs. Wherever there is a large industry in a certain field there will be people who pop up to exploit it, not caring for their paying clients and working only to make a quick buck. If you’re not careful, you may accidentally leave your loved one in the care of somebody who will exploit, mistreat or physically injure them. But how can you tell if your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse? Here are some common symptoms.

Signs of Physical Abuse on an Elderly Patient

Anybody who has been around an elderly family member knows that sometimes they don’t want to be a bother, so they keep their lips shut about things they should discuss. This is true with nursing home abuse as well, especially when there is a lingering threat from the guilty party. Physical abuse can sometimes be easy to spot. Most symptoms will appear on the arms or legs, the areas where they will be grabbed or thrown from. Look for bruises, cuts, and scrapes, and keep an eye on whether or not they choose to wear long sleeved shirts whenever you visit. This can be a sign that they are trying to cover up the nursing home abuse. Even if you suspect there might be abuse, but do not have proof you can still ask for help confidentially.

Signs of Neglect to an Elderly Patient

What’s even worse than physical abuse is nursing home neglect. Elderly patients need constant care and even the tiniest of slip-ups could lead to a serious medical issue. Look for bedsores – they are signs that your loved one is spending too much time in their bed. Bedsores may indicate that nursing home staff members are not checking in on patients regularly. Dehydration and malnutrition are two major forms of nursing home neglect. If your loved one is always thirsty when you visit or seems very lethargic or pale then it may mean that they are not receiving proper meals.

Why is This Treatment Common in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home employees tend to be divided into two different categories of people: workers who have decided to dedicate their lives to this field and educated themselves, and uneducated people who needed any job they could get and took one at a nursing home. The former group tends to be higher paid and find work at more expensive nursing homes, while cheaper nursing homes in lower income areas don’t try as hard to find competent employees. This leads to a hiring process that is less than adequate, which is why it’s very important to do proper research before making the decision to put your loved one in a care facility or nursing home.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a very difficult subject to discuss with a loved one. Many elderly people become embarrassed because they can’t physically defend themselves. This feeling of hopelessness is one major reason these forms of attacks are not reported. Bring up the topic carefully but let them know to be honest with you. Nursing home abuse and neglect needs to be reported so that the guilty parties can be punished.

If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, report it immediately and seek the help of an experience legal professional.  Mariano Morales Law is composed of a team of nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers located in Yakima, Washington.  For more information about the abuse and neglect of elders, visit the website at www.MarianoMoralesLaw.com.

What Is a Vulnerable Adult and How Do We Protect Them?

Vulnerable adults are people older than eighteen years of age who need a caregiver, and who are unable to protect themselves or look after themselves. Vulnerable adults include elderly people in nursing homes, people who are sick or frail, people with memory problems, or people who have difficulty communicating with others. Individuals with physical or mental disabilities are also classified as vulnerable adults. Unfortunately, because these individuals need care and are unable to look after themselves, they are at greater risk of abuse. Read on for more information regarding vulnerable adults and how we can protect them.

Why Are Vulnerable Adults Targets for Abuse?

Unfortunately, there are many reasons why vulnerable adults are the victims of abuse. Violence toward vulnerable adults can be a single outburst, or it can be a premeditated attack. Sometimes vulnerable adults are targeted for abuse because caregivers are frustrated at the adult’s inability to communicate or inability to act “normal.” Lack of knowledge or training by health professionals working in nursing homes, hospitals or residential homes can result in violence, as professionals are not taught how to appropriately deal with this frustration.

While poor management and inadequate training can result in abuse toward vulnerable adults, sometimes violence can result simply because caregivers have a violent history. Caregivers are not always health professionals, and therefore training in how to appropriately help vulnerable adults is not required.

What Are the Signs of Abuse Toward a Vulnerable Adult?

Some vulnerable adults, especially elderly individuals, may be reluctant to speak out about the abuse they are suffering from. They might excuse their bruises as being “nothing.” Having injuries and not fully explaining where they came from can be a sign of abuse. Unexplained physical symptoms, such as bruising or scarring, can be explained by abuse. The appearance of the vulnerable adult might also change: they might look dirtier or thinner than before due to improper care or neglect.

Also keep an eye out for behavioral changes. A vulnerable adult who is suffering from abuse or violence might become withdrawn, quiet or depressed. However, behavioral changes on the other end of the spectrum are also possible; a vulnerable adult might become inexplicably angry or aggressive. Not wanting to be alone with certain individuals is also a red flag.

How Do We Protect Vulnerable Adults?

There are several ways to protect vulnerable adults. The most effective way to help and protect vulnerable adults is never to ignore signs of abuse and never to shrug them off as nothing. If you are suspicious, ask questions. It’s best to speak with the vulnerable adult in private. If your suspicions of abuse are confirmed, you can either call a General Practitioner or you can speak with a social worker. Depending on the nature of the abuse, you might even want to get the police involved, as abuse toward a vulnerable adult can be a crime. Additionally, help lines and help from Adult Protective Services are available specifically for these instances.

Vulnerable adults are most at risk for abuse and violence, and because of this they need to be protected. If you suspect that a vulnerable adult you know has been abused or neglected in some way, speak with them and figure out how you can help them. Don’t ignore the situation, but speak out so something can be done to protect them.

If you have evidence that a loved one is being abused, report it to the police immediately, and seek legal counsel to represent the case.  Hughes & Coleman, Injury Lawyers are nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys located in Kentucky.  For more information about nursing home abuse and neglect, visit the website at www.NursingHomeNeglectLawyers.com.

Signs that Your Child May Be Abused or Neglected at Daycare

child negligenceA daycare is a place where you expect your kids to be safe and happy while you’re away at work. You have to be able to instill trust in a daycare because they are spending just as much time with your children as you do, thus you expect them to protect your youngster. A neglected child is the last thing that you would expect at a daycare, but the sad truth is that some kids are either abused or neglected at daycares all across the country. The important thing is that you’re able to spot the classic signs of the abused or neglected child. Here are some indicative signs that your child may be abused or neglected at daycare.

Changes In Comfort Level Are a Warning Sign

Let’s say that your child has always been happy or even excited to be left behind at daycare. Suddenly, though, your child’s demeanor changes to the point where he’s anxious or reluctant to be left alone at daycare. That can be a very telltale warning sign of either abuse or neglect occurring at the daycare. If your child was abused or neglected at daycare, he’ll naturally exhibit these signs of fear when faced with the prospect of going back there.

Are There Any Unusual Bruises?

Another telltale sign that your child is the abused or neglected child at daycare is the mysterious appearance of bruises on his or her body. This is especially true if you leave your child at daycare with no bruises, and when you pick him up, there are noticeable bruises on his body. Of course, it is always a possibility that your child could have gotten some bruises from the typical play in which kids engage. However, a big, red flag ought to go off in your head if these bruises occur much too frequently.

Withdrawal Is a Suspicious Sign

Children are naturally outgoing, playful and highly energetic. That’s why a child who withdraws and becomes more reserved is suspicious, especially if this withdrawal starts to occur only after you’ve been leaving him at a daycare. A child who begins to become withdrawn could be doing so not only from physical abuse, but also from mental abuse, such as neglect during the time you leave him at daycare. If you see your child becoming more withdrawn, you should investigate.

Does Your Child Flinch?

Flinching is a sign of expecting something bad and forceful to happen. If your child unexpectedly begins to flinch when you do something harmless like raising your hands or arms, then that should also set off alarm bells in your head. If your child was ever hit at daycare, then they’ll develop the flinching reaction as a way to brace them self for what they expect to be another smack in their direction.

An abused or neglected child is an extremely serious issue, especially if it’s your child. Daycare is one of the last places on Earth in which you expect child abuse or neglect to occur, but it does happen from time to time. The best thing parents can do is to be vigilant and monitor their children for signs of abuse or neglect.

If you suspect your child has been a victim of neglect or abuse in their daycare, it is important to find a new daycare and seek the help of a legal representative.  Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law are child care negligence lawyers located in North Carolina.  For more information about negligence and abuse at day care, visit the website at www.LawyerNC.com.

Will the Government raise the small claims limit for personal injury?

Accident and personal injury lawyers are awaiting a Government consultation paper on raising the small claims limit for personal injury (PI) with interest.

The controversial proposal first came to light in May, after a Whitehall ‘whiplash’ summit with the motor insurance industry. The Government then said that raising the limit from £1,000 to £5,000 would make it “easier for insurers to defend spurious or exaggerated claims by ending the situation whereby it is easier and cheaper to settle claims than it is to fight them”.

At the time, then Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly stated: “It’s totally unacceptable that we are seeing a disproportionate rise in whiplash claims when road traffic accidents are falling every year.”

It now seems the Government has back peddled, at least temporarily. In September Djanogly said that no decision had been taken on the issue and that none would be until, “all responses to the consultation document and other stakeholder submissions have been considered.”

So what has given the Government pause for thought? It’s possible the Government has been made aware of an independent report commissioned by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), which found that claims for whiplash injury compensation have actually fallen in the last 12 months.

In fact, figures from the Government’s own Compensation Recovery Unit show that whiplash claims have reduced by nearly 24,000 in a year. The APIL report went on to show that the vast majority of whiplash claims were neither “spurious” nor “exaggerated”.

But the proposals won’t just affect whiplash claims. Lawyers fear that, should the Government go ahead with its proposals, thousands of people with many different kinds of personal injury claims such as head injury claim will be unable to seek appropriate compensation.

“The small claims court is for minor consumer disputes not for injury claims up to £5k where liability and loss will need to be proved, using expert medical evidence, to the satisfaction of insurers and their lawyers,” says Stuart Kightley, head of accident claims at Osbornes Solicitors in London.

“If the Government goes ahead and raises the limit a claimant with, for example, a broken leg and loss of earnings will have to bring the claim himself or pay lawyers privately.”

Product Liability Laws and Your Family

Product liability involves holding a manufacturer or seller liable because a defective product was sold to a consumer. Sellers are responsible for a defective product because they distribute the item, and others who may be involved include the manufacturer, the distributor and the retailer selling the defective product.

What you should know

Generally speaking, the law states that any product should meet the consumer’s reasonable expectations of safety, and when a product has a hidden defect, it falls below that standard. Under the law, any party that is part of the distribution chain could be held liable for a defective product, along with whoever installs or assembles it.

In a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that a product caused an injury because it was defective to such an extent that it was “’unreasonably dangerous.” These defects fall into three categories:

● design defects that make the product inherently unsafe,

● manufacturing defects that occur during the product’s production or assembly, and

● marketing defects due to inadequate safety warnings, incomplete instructions and incorrect labeling.

For their part, consumers must follow a product’s instructions carefully, heed the safety warnings, and read the fine print as well.

Protecting children

In the United States, many families are adversely affected by injuries that are the result of using a defective product every year, and children are often harmed because a manufacturer failed to take the necessary safety precautions. For example, the most common defective children’s products include playpens, cribs, high chairs, strollers, walkers, car seats, toys and carriers.

Establishing who is liable

With product liability cases, the defense often maintains that the plaintiff has failed in identifying the supplier of the item that is alleged to be the cause of the injury. Consequently, the plaintiff must provide a direct link between the product and those who were involved in producing or supplying it. Note that an exception to the rule may be applied in a case involving a defective medication. If a plaintiff is unable to identify which pharmaceutical company supplied the drug he or she consumed, all manufactures will be held liable, based on the amount of sales for the medication in the plaintiff’s locale.

As part of their defense, a manufacturer or distributor may claim that the plaintiff significantly altered the item after purchasing it, and that taking this step was the sole cause of the injury. It may also be argued that the article was used in an “unforeseeable way” as opposed to its intended purpose, and that this error is the source of the plaintiff’s injury.

Getting the help you need

Product liability cases can be very complicated, and proving liability may require the advice and testimony of experts in the field. There are several legal precedents under which a plaintiff’s attorney could file a claim, and several legal arguments that could cause them to be unsuccessful as well. In addition, each state has its own set of specific statutes and laws that have a direct bearing on product liability lawsuits. Because of this, it is essential to consult with an experienced product liability attorney if you feel that you or some one close to you has been injured by a defective product.

When you’re on your family vacation, you don’t want to be worrying about all these when renting equipment. So, when you’re off vacationing in Hawaii and are looking for an adventure, make sure to do it with ATV Outfitters Hawaii. They’ll make sure that you and your family will have a memorable, fun, and safe adventure of a lifetime.

Woman Charged with Abuse for Locking Daughter in Closet

Jacole Prince of Kansas City, Missouri has been charged with abusing her 10-year-old daughter after the girl was found locked in a closet that smelled of urine.

Prince, 29, is facing assault, endangerment and child abuse charges. All of the charges are felonies.

Anonymous Caller Reported Abuse

An anonymous caller contacted the child abuse hotline claiming that three children lived at Prince’s home, but one was confined in a closet. The agency notified the police.

In response to the anonymous call, police officers met social workers from the Missouri Children’s Division outside of Prince’s apartment. When they arrived at the home, neighbors told them that Prince had left the home with two girls.

When a social worker told the neighbors that three girls lived at the home, the neighbors insisted that only two children lived with Prince. Prince told them she only had two daughters. Neighbors claimed that they had lived near Prince for several years but had never seen a third child.

When questioned by police, the neighbors insisted that the other two daughters were always clean and seemed well-cared for.

Officers Discover Girl Locked in Closet

When officers entered the apartment, they discovered a crib set up against a closet door in a bedroom. The closet door was tied closed. When an officer asked if anyone was in there, they heard the girl respond, “Yes.” The officers opened the door to the closet and discovered the girl standing inside. The closet reeked of urine.

The girl was taken to a local hospital. The hospital staff reported that the girl weighed only six pounds more than she did at her last hospital visit six years earlier. When questioned by investigators, the girl explained that she had no room of her own and that she was forced to remain in the closet most of the time. She claimed that she often went without food for days. She also did not have access to a restroom and had to relieve herself in the closet.

The girl told officers that she wasn’t allowed out of the house because she “messes herself.” She claims that Prince gets mad and punches her on the back when she pees on herself.

According to reports, the girl was suffering from several skin injuries and failure to thrive. At 32 pounds, the girl weighs just over one-third of the weight of a typical 10-year-old child. It is unclear how long the girl had been confined to the closet.

Authorities say that the anonymous phone call to the child abuse hotline likely saved the child’s life.

Children Placed in Protective Custody

Prince was arrested on Friday, June 22. The other two children were placed in protective custody.

Prince acknowledged that she did not let the girl leave the house. She claims that she was embarrassed by the girl’s appearance and feared she would be in trouble if anyone saw her condition.

Prince’s boyfriend has not been charged. He has denied knowing that the girl had been locked in the closet. He is not the biological father of the victim. Police are attempting to locate the victim’s biological father.

Prince was arraigned on Monday, June 25. She entered a plea of not guilty.

 

This article was written on behalf of Stokes Injury Lawyers, a group of Atlanta wrongful death attorneys who will fight for you and your family.