An Essex County jury handed down a $166 million verdict Friday against the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services in a case involving a boy who suffered severe brain damage allegedly caused by a beating.
The award was given to 4-year-old Jadiel Velesquez, who lawyers said was beaten by his father.
Jadiel's grandparents sued DYFS, accusing it of failing to remove the boy from his home after he was brought to the hospital with unexplained bruises. The grandparents claimed they were inflicted by the boy's father.
Lawyers said the boy was returned to his mother's home despite a doctor's finding of abuse. The beating that left him dependent on 24-hour-care happened weeks later.
In a DYFS memo given to staff, Commissioner Alison Blake said the agency is reviewing the verdict with lawyers to see if it will appeal. Blake said she is hurt and angry about the case.
She said the state's child welfare system has undergone major reforms, including reducing caseworker workload and strengthening training and supervision of caseworkers.