Couple wins suit against city after baby taken

By: Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune: July 4th, 2008

A federal jury in Chicago awarded $4.2 million Thursday to a West Side couple whose infant was taken into protective custody for more than 8 months after two Chicago detectives allegedly “lied” to state investigators, the couple’s attorney said.

The city denied that the two officers had acted improperly and argued that their actions played no role in the decision by the Department of Children and Family Services to place the 6-month-old girl in foster care, according to a Law Department spokeswoman. She said the city is disappointed with the verdict and reviewing its legal options.

On Nov. 15, 2005, the owner of an in-home day-care center called Jose L. Duran and his wife, Evelyn Torres, to report that their 6-month-old daughter was crying uncontrollably, according to the couple’s 2006 lawsuit. Hospital X-rays revealed their firstborn child had two broken arms, according to the complaint.

DCFS launched an investigation and contacted Chicago police. The suit states that the two detectives investigating the case incorrectly administered polygraph tests to the parents and then did not fully disclose the results to DCFS. Torres was given the exam in English although she requested Spanish and her attorneys argued that the police withheld other information, leading DCFS to place the child in protective custody.

Their child was returned in September 2006 after prosecutors dropped their petition to declare the girl a ward of the state. Jurors deliberated for about 12 hours before returning the verdict Thursday afternoon, the couple’s attorney said. The child, now 3, was awarded $2.5 million. Her parents were awarded $850,000 as were the family’s attorneys.

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