Mother plans suit against Department of Child Services over baby’s death

Destiny was at least the fourth child to die in Marion County since November while under the supervision of DCS.

Indy Star | Jun 11, 2008

By Tim Evans

The mother of Destiny Linden, a 7-week-old Indianapolis girl who died April 29 while in the state foster care system, has notified the Indiana Department of Child Services that she plans to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the agency. At the heart of Randi Linden’s claim: Destiny was improperly removed from her by DCS, which led to the baby’s death.

In a separate action, Michael Carter Love, Destiny’s father, has filed a suit against Destiny’s foster parents, alleging their negligence led to the child’s death.

Susan Tielking, DCS spokeswoman, acknowledged the agency received the tort claim notice but said she could not talk about specifics of the case. She said the agency is about halfway through its internal investigation of how it handled the matter, a process that could take another month or two.

Destiny died eight days after a DCS caseworker removed her from Linden on April 21.

In court records, DCS officials claimed they had to remove Destiny because Linden failed to protect the child when she refused to go to a domestic violence shelter or press criminal charges against Love for an alleged assault in early April.

Indianapolis attorney David B. Wilson, who is representing Love in the suit against the foster parents, said his client “vigorously denies the allegations” that he assaulted Linden. Linden and Love were not married, did not live together or have a relationship at the time of the incident or Destiny’s death.

Three days after DCS placed Destiny in the home of Indianapolis foster parents Everett and Kim Coleman, she was found unconscious in an adult bed. Destiny never regained consciousness and was kept on life support systems for five days before she was pronounced dead.

The exact cause of her death remains undetermined, pending results of toxicology and other tests, but Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew has said it appeared to be the result of an unsafe sleeping situation.

Destiny was at least the fourth child to die in Marion County since November while under the supervision of DCS.

Indianapolis attorney Nathaniel Lee filed Linden’s tort claim notice with DCS in late May. Doing so is the first step required to file a lawsuit against the government agency. If the state does not approve the claim within 90 days, the complaining party has two years to file a lawsuit.

The notice states: “Due to the improper actions of CPS, Destiny Linden expired. We are hereby seeking damages against CPS for the wrongful taking of the child, which led to the wrongful death.”

Lee also has asked Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to look into several aspects of the case.

In a letter to the prosecutor, Lee said he thinks Love should have been criminally charged in the alleged assault of Linden — which would have eliminated the need for Destiny to be removed from her mother. The letter states Linden refused to press charges because Love threatened her if she cooperated with police or prosecutors, but that investigators never made an attempt to determine why she was refusing to move forward with charges after filing an initial police report.

Matthew Symons, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said both the alleged assault and Destiny’s death are under investigation by police and the prosecutor’s staff. Until those investigations are completed, Symons said, he could not comment further on either matter.

In his suit against the Colemans, who were licensed foster parents in good standing with the state at the time of Destiny’s placement, Love contends they had “a duty to use reasonable care for Destiny’s safety.” The couple breached that responsibility, the suit says, by placing Destiny in an adult bed, rather than a crib, and failed to properly monitor the infant.

As a result, Love states, he incurred medical expenses, emotional distress and the loss of love and companionship of his daughter. The suit asks for “a fair and reasonable amount” of damages from the couple.

No attorney was listed in court records for the Colemans, and a telephone number for the couple in a police report filed when Destiny was found unconscious has been disconnected.

2 responses to “Mother plans suit against Department of Child Services over baby’s death

  1. I have friends in Indiana who have told me their own horror stories of child services, though I doubt local to just that area.

  2. Yes, DCS thinks that every child in Indiana should have concerns about how dcs operates. I have been dealing with them since 2001 ( Wayne, and Marion counties ) Some caseworkers are truly concerned then there are others who just look at your situation and figure you don’t deserve your own kids. I am under their investigations based on a overzealous Caseworker who made discouraging remarks to my fiance’ about how he knew she was a chins child when she was younger so he was going to take her children from her and he has went to Juvenile
    court and lied on her. SO TELL ME WHO IS WATCHING THEM WATCH US ??????

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