Girl found living in squalor wins $4M settlement from state

She and two young brothers were found abandoned in a filthy home in Lake Stevens in 2015.

EVERETT — The state has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it failed to protect a girl who was discovered with her young siblings in 2015, abandoned in a filthy home in Lake Stevens.

The settlement, reached Oct. 25, became public Monday after a hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court.

The case was brought on behalf of a girl, now 9, and living with her biological father.

She was one of three children taken into protective custody during winter 2015 after being found alone and living in a home with no heat and the floors covered with human and animal waste. Two boys, then aged 3 and 10 months, also were rescued, one suffering from hypothermia.

The child’s mother, Amanda A. Foley, had a long history of drug use, including ingesting methamphetamine while pregnant, according to court papers. Convicted of misdemeanor abandonment, she’s continued to run afoul of the law to support her addictions, although is now in drug treatment, documents show.

The lawsuit alleged the state Department of Social and Health Services had failed to act to protect the girl and Foley’s other children from neglect despite numerous warnings and opportunities to intervene.

The conditions in the home were “nightmarish” and there was overwhelmingly evidence the children had been “subjected to horrific abuse and neglect, consistent with numerous, detailed warnings that DSHS had been receiving for years,” Seattle attorneys David P. Moody and Ian Bauer said in documents filed to initiate the litigation in November 2016.

The children were placed in protective custody and ultimately provided new homes. The girl now lives with her father, who was unaware of her existence prior to her rescue, according to court papers.

The girl’s interests were represented by a guardian ad litem, in this case a lawyer. He supported the settlement.

In a report to the court, Seattle attorney Lafacadio Darling said the evidence he reviewed showed the state had begun receiving warnings of neglect and danger as early as 2011, and that officials failed to take appropriate steps.

“During this period that DSHS was allegedly neglecting its duties and ignoring the warnings, there is no dispute that (the girl) was forced to live in horrid conditions of neglect, starvation, filth and abuse,” he wrote. “The police reports and other evidence from the rescue of the children are both sad and compelling.”

The lawyer said evidence he’d reviewed indicated that state workers now acknowledge they’d mishandled the case. Even so, there was a risk that a jury could have found that the child’s suffering did not merit substantial compensation for damages, he wrote.

Much of the money obtained in the settlement is destined for a trust established for the girl’s needs.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @snorthnews.

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