Oregon's top payouts for state wrongdoing: $15 million settlement dwarfs them all – OregonLive.com
A $15 million settlement in a foster child abuse case far outstrips other successful claims against the state.
These are the 11 most expensive settlements in Oregon over the last two decades, totaling more than $40 million. They include wrongdoing alleged by foster children, motorists and one prison inmate.
The Oregon Department of Human Services has cost Oregon taxpayers more than any other state agency.
1. Nine foster children, $15 million: The payout will resolve a federal lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Human Services filed on behalf of nine young children — medically fragile newborns, infants and toddlers ranging in age from 2 days to 3 years — abused by a Salem foster father.
James Earl Mooney, now 31, is serving a 50-year prison sentence state at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution.
2. Amy Conroy, $5 million: A jury originally awarded Conroy $8 million after an Oregon State Police trooper stopped her for allegedly speeding in rural Oregon near Lakeview in 1997. The trooper repeatedly struck the 43-year-old with a baton, emptied a can of pepper spray into her face and shot her with a .40-caliber handgun while the trooper believed Conroy was resisting arrest.
Conroy, who had a blood alcohol content of .17 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit, later settled her case for $5 million to avoid a long appeals process.
3. Stephanie Kuntupis, $3.75 million: In 2007, a Gresham foster dad so violently shook his 2-year-old foster daughter that he blinded her in one eye and caused irreversible brain damage.
The girl’s attorney argued that the Department of Human Services never should have approved Cesar Cruz-Reyes as a foster parent and failed to intervene when signs surfaced that the girl was in grave danger. The state agreed to settle the claim before it could go to trial.
4. E.S. and N.E., $3.6 million — Attorneys for the two girls, ages 2 and 4, won a $4.1 million jury verdict for sexual and physical abuse by their Portland foster mom, Kimberly Vollmer.
The Department of Human Services approved Vollmer, then 31, as a foster parent in January 2011, despite red flags — including her borderline low IQ of about 70 and psychiatric problems, the girls’ attorneys said. The case was later settled for $3.6 million to avoid a long appeals process.
5. B.D., $2.3 million: A Multnomah County jury awarded the money after an attorney for a young foster child successfully argued that the Department Human Services failed to intervene as the child was abused and starved from 2002 to 2004. He lived in the Clackamas County home of his foster parents, Thelma and William Beaver.
The boy weighed more at age 1 than he did at age 3, when he was removed from the home. Among his memories was being forced to sleep outside in a dog house.
6. Estate of Cesar Cruz-Reyes, $2.1 million: Cruz-Reyes was sent to prison for battering Stephanie Kuntupis, leaving her brain damaged for life. Cruz-Reyes died in prison in 2009, and his family claimed that the Oregon Department of Corrections failed to give him proper medical care. Cruz-Reyes, 38, died from liver failure.
The state settled Cruz-Reyes’ claim before the case went to trial. One of the beneficiaries was his wife, who was Stephanie Kuntupis’ foster mother and lived in the home at the time the abuse occurred.
7. Kaylie and Jordan Collins, $2 million: The Department of Human Services failed to intervene in the lives of the twins, age 3, who were deprived of food and medical care and kept in cribs covered with chicken wire in a darkened room in the Gresham foster home of Gail and Marvin Thompson from 2002 to 2005, according to their attorney.
Risk managers for the Department of Human Services agreed to the settlement in 2009.
8. Michael Nielsen, $1.8 million: Details weren’t available about this state payout, but the state classifies the case as involving “auto liability” in 2012 on the part of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
9. Curtin Mitchell, $1.5 million: Again, details weren’t available about this 2009 “auto liability” case involving the Oregon Department of Transportation.
10. and 11. Jordan Knapp, $1.5 million: At 5, Jordan Knapp weighed 28 pounds when she was rushed from the Clackamas County foster home of Thelma and William Beaver to OHSU with a broken skull in 2004. Her foster brother, B.D., got a $2.3 million payout from the state.
Jeanette Maples, $1.5 million: In 2009, the 15-year-old Eugene girl’s body was found in a bathtub after years of prolonged beatings and starvation. Department of Human Services workers received reports that the girl was being abused but didn’t remove her from the home.
Risk managers for the Department of Human Services agreed to the settlement to avoid a trial.
Jeanette Maples’ foster mother was convicted, and is the only woman on Oregon’s death row.
— Aimee Green