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Kaye Scholer Secures Pro Bono Victory for Father Falsely Accused of Child Abuse

July 1, 2016

Kaye Scholer's pro bono team, representing a client accused of child abuse, secured an outcome so favorable that the Judge stated he had "never seen [such a favorable settlement] in a case with allegations this serious."

The Administration for Children's Services (ACS) accused our client of burning his son, Mohammed, when our client brought the child to Harlem Hospital with skin lesions that he could not explain. However, in addition to alleging abuse based on a surgeon's visual assessment that the lesions were two-week old burns, the medical staff determined that Mohammed had a rare genetic condition, which we suspected was the cause of the lesions.

Kaye Scholer, working with The Bronx Defenders , found literature demonstrating that extreme sensitivity to the sun was a known, but mostly unpublicized, skin effect associated with Mohammed's genetic condition. Using this literature, we worked with a dermatology expert, who explained that Mohammed's sensitivity to the sun can be exacerbated by contact with common fruits that were part of our client's routine diet. She opined that the combination of (1) extreme sun sensitivity from his condition and contact with common fruits, and (2) sun exposure, was the cause of Mohammed's lesions, not child abuse. The expert then prepared a report explaining her opinion that caused ACS to doubt its ability to prove a diagnosis of abuse. 

In addition to developing our client's defense, Kaye Scholer counseled our client so that he could demonstrate to opposing counsel that he was a committed and devoted father. Together, our presentation of the client's character and the evidence of the hospital's misdiagnosis, convinced ACS to return the child to the custody of his parents. The case concluded with ACS agreeing to drop any requirement that our client admit abuse or even negligence.  

Intellectual Property associate Nathan Brown led the Kaye Scholer team, which included Litigation associates Allison Angel and Sina Mansouri, and legal nurse analyst Caren Gurwitz. Intellectual Property partner Jim Blank and Litigation special counsel Glenn Pogust supervised the team. Case manager Martin Kald and project assistant Emily Davis provided much needed support. 

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