PALMDALE, Calif. - Relatives of Noah Cuatro, the 4-year-old Palmdale boy whose parents have been charged with murder and torture in connection with his death, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against Los Angeles County.
The claim was filed on behalf of Noah's great-grandmother, Evangelina Hernandez, on behalf of herself and the boy’s sister and two brothers, all minors.
The lawsuit names Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services as an additional defendant. Hathaway-Sycamores is an agency used by the county's Department of Children and Family Services for mental health services.
The suit claims that the agency knew of or suspected the abuse and misconduct happening in Noah’s home but failed to report the abuse. It alleges that the county and DCFS "knew of the pattern of Hathaway-Sycamores to violate mandatory reporting laws."
Noah's parents, Jose Maria Cuatro Jr., 28, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 26, were indicted in January on one count each of murder and torture in their son's death.
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Noah's parents reported a near-drowning in their family pool in the 1200 block of East Avenue S around 4 p.m. July 5, 2019, but medical professionals observed the trauma from his body was not consistent with drowning. He died at the hospital the following day.
Noah's death was officially ruled a homicide on September 24, 2019, by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. Two days later, Cuatro and Juarez were arrested and booked into the Palmdale Sheriff's Station.
According to the lawsuit, prior to the boy's death, there had been multiple reports of abuse to the county's DCFS.
“Instead of protecting Noah and his siblings, DCFS continued to place the children with their abusive parents, where the children continued to be abused over the course of several years,” the suit claims.
In October of last year, DCFS released a statement on the case, saying in part:
"Many of the cases that come to the attention of child protective services have a complicated history and complex family dynamics. Determining when and if to remove a child from his or her home is often a sensitive and difficult decision that involves collaborating with our partners in the County’s child protection safety net and gathering and analyzing information from them to help the social worker make an informed decision about the safety of the child at the time."
The statement went on to say, "We strive each and every day with our partners and colleagues to strengthen the child safety net and do our best to ensure the well-being of the children that we serve."
The suit seeks recovery of damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, property damages and loss of wages.