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May 24, 2015

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Woman sues foster mother, Clark County over death of 3-year-old boy

Clark County and a foster mother are being sued by the natural mom of a 3-year-old Las Vegas boy who was found dead with a bag over his head in May 2009.

An attorney for Teresa Romero filed suit in Clark County District Court alleging negligence and wrongful death in the case of Adan Adrian Madrid. Police at the time said his death appeared to have been accidental.

Romero also charged in the suit that her son’s constitutional rights were violated when Adan was placed in an unsuitable foster home and that county officials then failed to monitor the home or properly check on her boy’s well-being.

The lawsuit alleged that as early as 2004 a review of Clark County child protective services and foster care programs by the federal government found problems including "establishing contact between caseworkers and the children and parents in their caseloads with sufficient frequency to ensure children’s safety and well-being."

The suit says these problems had worsened by 2006 and haven’t been corrected as "Department of Family Service caseworkers maintain a caseload of greater than twice the national average."

"Clark County knows that it has not adequately funded DFS to enable it to hire adequate caseworker forces, to adequately train them, supervise them and follow up on the safety of children in its care," the suit charges.

It further complains county officials "deliberately made the decision to withhold required funding despite this knowledge, elevating political considerations above the monetary reality required to keep children in its care reasonably safe."

In Adan’s situation, the lawsuit says Clark County failed to have a caseworker visit him at least each month and as a result foster mother Maite Au Quiroga allegedly "was able to violate statutes and administrative codes" controlling licensure of foster parents.

Discovery of these alleged violations would have resulted in Adan being removed from her care, the lawsuit says.

"The foster home of Maite Au Quiroga was unsafe for Adan Adrian Madrid due to the fact that he was subjected therein to neglect and/or abuse, a fact which would have been easily discovered by the defendants had they followed their own policies," the lawsuit says.

The suit, filed by Las Vegas attorney Marjorie Hauf, says this situation constituted "a violation of the minor child’s rights pursuant to the Constitution of the United States and its Fifth and 14th Amendment rights of due process to be provided with basic human needs and to be free from unreasonable physical harm while in the custody of a government entity."

The suit was filed in March and cane to light this week when attorneys for Clark County transferred it to federal court. One of the attorneys for the county said in court papers she has been unable to locate Au Quiroga and that the plaintiff intends to seek a default judgment against Au Quiroga because she has not answered the complaint.

A message for comment was left with Au Quiroga.

The attorneys for Clark County have not yet filed a response to the allegations in the lawsuit.

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