07/21/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley
Seattle, WA—A settlement has been reached with the state of Washington in a wrongful death lawsuit concerning the death of a 5-year-old who was fatally beaten by his stepfather, as his father complained to Child Protection Services about suspected abuse. On Friday, July 16, 2010, the state agreed to pay $2.1 million to the father of Michael Kekoa Ravenell, reports The Seattle Times.
According to the lawsuit filed by the 5-year-old’s father, Michael Ravenell, he reported suspicions of abuse to the Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS), who oversees Child Protection Services, about a month before his son’s tragic death. Ravenelle told DSHS that he believed that his son’s stepfather, Noah Thomas, had abused his son after he discovered bruising on the boy’s arm.
On May 28, 2008, Thomas admitted to police that he viciously punched, choked and threw his stepson up against the wall and metal bed frame. Thomas claimed he was frustrated that Michael wouldn’t eat his cereal.
By the time the injured boy was evaluated by a doctor at an area hospital, he had already succumbed to his fatal injuries. Doctors said he died from blunt-force trauma and swelling of the brain.
According to DSHS, the social worker assigned to the case failed to alert police or conduct an investigation into the abuse claims, which is required when an abuse complaint is reported. The social worker also failed to run Thomas’ name through a criminal history check, in which they would have found a record with multiple felony arrests and child-abuse charges. The social worker was apparently new and was overloaded with cases, juggling a total of 30 cases, more than twice the maximum limit.
In 2009, Thomas pleaded guilty to charges of homicide by abuse, and is currently serving 50-years in prison.
The $2.1 million settlement will be dividing among the father, his younger sister and an estate set up in Michael’s name.
Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Washington wrongful death lawyers.