GRETNA – The family of a boy who allegedly died while in foster care is suing.
Patrick Simmons Sr. and Crystal Simmons, individually and on behalf of their deceased minor child Eli Simmons, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services/Children’s Legal Services Project, Patrick Simmons Jr. and Ania Simmons filed suit against The State of Louisiana, Department of Children and Family Services, The Department of Social Services Office of Community Services, Dr. Frank Minyard and his successor Dr. Jeffery Rouse as the Orleans Parish Coroner, The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office, Sandra Hayes, Brenda Scott, Charrlyse Sandifer, Karen Cross-Cesar, unknown foster parents and their insurers in the 24th Judicial District Court on April 8.
The plaintiffs allege Eli Simmons was forcibly removed from his parents’ home by Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and their caseworkers on Feb. 11, 2013 without just cause. The child, who allegedly had special medical needs, was placed into the care of foster parents who the plaintiffs claim did not have proper training or possess the child’s medical records to handle his medical condition.
On April 8, 2013 the Simmonses assert they were summoned to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans and when they arrived they found their son was dead. They claim they were not offered an explanation of what had caused his death. The plaintiffs allege the death of Eli Simmons was due to negligence on behalf of the defendants.
The defendants are accused of improper placement of a special needs child in a foster home, not ensuring foster parents were properly trained and supervised, placing a foster child with special needs in a home not within reasonable distance from emergency care facilities, failing to timely obtain medical records in order to properly place child in foster care, failing to provide the plaintiffs with a cause of death, failing to ascertain cause of death, failing to allow parents and children to bury their son or sibling, failing to timely provide the coroner with proper medical records, infliction of emotional distress and infliction of pain and suffering.
The Orleans Parish Coroner is specifically accused of mishandling the child’s autopsy, failing to provide the body to the family for mourning and Christian burial, failing to provide the body to the family for a separate autopsy to determine the cause of death, disposal of the body to inhibit the family from exhuming the remains, disregard for the court order to preserve the body, infliction of emotional distress and failing to properly document the autopsy.
An unspecified amount in damages is sought for wrongful death, survival action, loss of consortium, loss of affection, intentional infliction of emotional distress, loss of grieving, loss of burial process, loss of family member, loss of support, mental anguish, emotional distress and medical expenses.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorney John J. Finckbeiner Jr. of New Orleans.
The case has been assigned to Division L Judge Donald A. Rowan Jr.
Case no. 737-234.