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State of New Jersey Pays $6,750,000 to Settle Lawsuit Brought by Woman Sexually Abused in Foster Care

May 6, 2024 | Firm News, News, Sexual Abuse

The State of New Jersey has agreed to pay $6,750,000 to a woman, J.T., alleged to have been sexually abused starting in 1972 in the State’s foster care system when she was nine years old. The settlement will allow the parties to avoid a long jury trial that was scheduled to begin on June 10, 2024. This settlement comes on the heels of a $25 million trial verdict awarded to another foster care sexual abuse survivor against the State of New Jersey earlier this year, where our firm also represented the survivor. The State of New Jersey finds itself facing dozens, if not hundreds, of sexual abuse lawsuits filed under the landmark Child Victims Act enacted in 2019, which revived legal rights of survivors of childhood sexual abuse to pursue claims against perpetrators and institutions that allowed abuse to happen. 

Parnter Vincent Nappo of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala Law and Matthew Bonanno of the law firm Rebenack Aronow Mascolo LLP, represented J.T. Bonanno and Nappo were preparing to try the civil case, having recently obtained the $25 million verdict against the State of New Jersey in a similar foster care abuse case noted above. Our firm has done extensive work handling child sexual abuse cases, including cases involving sexual abuse at schools, youth organizations, youth athletics, churches, day care centers, foster care, and more. 

In this case, the State of New Jersey removed J.T. from her family and placed her in the foster home of Joseph Salmon when she was 9 years old. She resided there for 5 weeks, from May 5, 1972 to June 19, 1972, as Salmon sexually abused her and other children numerous times, including acts of forced oral sex and penetration. 

J.T.’s abuse ended after a past victim of Salmon complained to the police, which led to Salmon’s criminal prosecution and conviction in 1972 for the sexual abuse J.T. and others. The foster home was later shut down. During the discovery phase of the lawsuit, it was revealed two foster children had complained to the State about Salmon’s deviant conduct, including “urinating” on young boys, but that little to no investigation was taken at the time to assess safety in the home. At trial, Nappo and Bonanno were planning to argue no child should have been placed at the Salmon home due to the prior complaint, particularly where, as in this case, the complaint was never properly investigated to ensure the home was safe for children. 

According to Bonanno, this is the largest settlement reached prior to trial with the State of New Jersey in a foster care sexual abuse case: “We believe $6.75 million is the largest settlement paid 

by the State of New Jersey in a sexual abuse case before trial. Our client is extremely happy with the settlement. While there is little doubt in our minds a jury would have returned a verdict many times larger, we are thrilled J.T. can put the case behind her and avoid the emotional toll of a jury trial.” 

Nappo added, the State never should have placed J.T., or other children, in the Salmon foster home: “The Salmon home was a horror house of abuse. Prior to J.T.’s abuse, two foster children complained that Salmon ‘urinated’ on them, which is how young children often describe certain sex acts. This complaint should have raised major red flags and should have prompted extensive action to investigate safety in the home before placing J.T. or other children in Salmon’s care. Unfortunately, little action was taken to investigate the Salmon home at that time, and as a result, J.T. and other vulnerable foster children were placed there and forced to endure horrific acts of rape and sexual abuse.” 

About PCVA Law & RAM Law Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (PCVA)

One of the leading law firms in the United States fighting for the rights of sexual abuse survivors, represents more than 1,000 people who have filed lawsuits under the Child Victims Act and Adult Survivors Act in New York. In addition, since 2004, PCVA has represented hundreds of abuse survivors in substantial and complex bankruptcy proceedings around the country, including New Jersey’s Camden Diocese. Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo LLP (RAM) is a leading New Brunswick, Somerville, and Freehold, NJ firm specializing in personal injury and accident cases, holding an unwavering commitment to securing fair compensation for plaintiffs’ injuries. Attorneys from RAM and PCVA are thoroughly familiar with cases against the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, Mormon Church, Big Brothers Big Sisters, private and public schools, and others, and how statute of limitations reform was implemented in other states 

Read from news outlets here: 

N.J. to pay $6.75M to woman raped as a child in foster homes decades ago –

‘Horror House:’ $6.75M Pre-Trial Settlement Reached For NJ Woman Sexually Abused In Foster Care | Union Daily Voice