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PCVA & RAM Law Firms Won Historic $25 Million Verdict In First Child Victims Act Trial Against State of New Jersey

Mar 13, 2024 | Firm News, Sexual Abuse

A jury awarded a historic $25 million in a trial verdict to a survivor of child sex abuse in the first case brought to trial under the Child Victims Act. The case was against the state’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).

The unanimous trial verdict found DYFS 99% liable for gross negligence through numerous failures to protect our plaintiff while in foster care, which exposed the survivor to vicious sexual abuse and revictimization.

Our plaintiff was introduced to the foster care system at 5-years-old due to experiencing parental drug abuse and neglect. Our plaintiff faced heinous sexual abuse across three different foster homes by four separate perpetrators, two of whom were later convicted, from 1990-1993.

Vincent Nappo, lead attorney for the plaintiff at Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (“PCVA”), stressed the state’s glaring negligence in allowing the abuse to go unchecked for years at length: “The State of New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services failed to supervise and protect our client for years and years. They left our client exposed to unthinkable acts of sexual abuse and rape in three foster homes when she was just six to nine years old. The verdict sends a signal to institutions that failing to take accountability and do the right thing has consequences. We are grateful to Judge Bradshaw, court staff, and the jurors that devoted countless hours of their time to allow our client the opportunity to bring this important case to trial. We are also grateful to defense counsel and their professionalism in its handling of such an emotionally difficult and explosive case.”

Matthew Bonanno, lead attorney for the plaintiff at Rebenack Aronow Mascolo LLP (“RAM”), highlighted the case’s significance in establishing precedent for the Department’s institutional liability: “This is the first Child Victims Act case brought to trial against the State of New Jersey. The jury unanimously ruled in our client’s favor and rejected DCPP’s pleas to place the blame on the perpetrators, and instead held the Department 99% liable for the $25 million verdict. We hope this sends a message to DCPP in similar foster care abuse cases and helps bring those cases to resolution without the need for weeks-long jury trials.”

Attorneys from the law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (“PCVA”) and Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo (“RAM”), represent nearly 175 CVA related cases across the state of New Jersey.

The momentous verdict concludes a long fight for the plaintiff to secure restitution and accountability under New Jersey’s landmark legislation, S477 – the “Child Victims Act.” The law opened a two-year window that suspended the statute of limitations for civil claims arising from child sexual abuse and provided survivors with a unique, unprecedented opportunity to seek restitution and accountability the abuse they suffered.

Read More About this Historic Win:

New Jersey Law Journal:

RAM Law Article:

My Central Jersey: