'Shaken' foster baby seeks $750,000 for injuries
A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD girl whose abusive foster parents shook her and damaged her brain is seeking $746,092 in damages for her future education and living costs.
The NSW Supreme Court heard the girl was born in Sydney in 2009 but immediately placed under state care and shipped off to foster parents who were already subject to allegations of domestic violence, drug use, and lack of supervision of other children in their care.
She was admitted to Lismore Base Hospital five months after her birth with severe injuries, apparently due to assault, with swelling of the brain and healing fractures to her limbs.
The girl's legal representative alleged her foster parents had violently shaken or otherwise assaulted her.
The State of New South Wales accepted it had breached its duty of care by failing to properly assess the girl's foster parents and supervise her placement.
But it disputed what caused the girl's injuries and whether the blame lay with the state or the alleged abusers.
Justice Ian Harrison said the State of NSW agreed to make an interim $746,092 payment towards the girl's future, with other payments a possibility in the future.
"The plaintiff is very young. Her medical condition has not stabilised and it is unlikely that it will do so for some considerable time," Justice Harrison said.
"Her damages claim is presently incapable of accurate or even general assessment, and will undoubtedly have to await her adolescence at least, if not in fact much later."
Justice Harrison ordered a separate hearing to determine who was liable for the girl's injuries.
The State of NSW will be ordered to pay make the $746,092 payment if found liable.
"Having regard to the material before me, however, I am satisfied that, if the proceedings went to trial, the plaintiff would obtain judgment for substantial damages against the defendant," Justice Harrison said.
"In general exposition of that opinion, it seems highly likely, to a point approaching certainty, that the plaintiff sustained injuries at the hands of the carers into whose custody she was placed by the defendant when it knew or ought to have known that they were, or one of them was, entirely unsuited to the role, and that there was a very substantial and foreseeable risk that the plaintiff may be harmed.
"Furthermore, the so-called issues of legal and medical causation do not appear to me, upon the material to which my attention has been drawn, to present any insurmountable difficulties for the plaintiff."