Generally, when a child is put up for adoption or otherwise placed in a home there are many steps taken to ensure that the home in question will be safe for the child. One factor that is taken into consideration is whether the adoptive parent is related to the child.
But in Beatrice Weston's case, the City of Philadelphia allegedly placed her with her aunt without doing a background check or home visit. This is an issue because her aunt was Linda Ann Weston, who was convicted of killing her boyfriend by locking him in a closet and starving him to death in 1983, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Further, Beatrice Weston claims that had there been a home inspection at her aunt's home in Tacony, officials would have found the four disabled adults whom Linda Ann Weston had locked up in a "basement of horror" in a scheme to collect their Social Security checks.
Once Beatrice Weston was placed in the home, she was subjected to significant abuse along with the other adults. She was subjected to ten years of torture, depravation, beating, and being forced to drink her own urine, according to CBS 3. Now she is suing the City of Philadelphia and her aunt for her injuries.
One of the causes of actions is most likely negligence. A negligence claim is based on a breach of a legal duty that injures another person. A legal duty can be defined by statute, or it can be the general duty to act like a reasonable person that we all owe one another.
In this case, the City through its employees owed Beatrice Weston a duty to keep her safe. At a minimum, it owed her the duty to take reasonable steps to place her in a safe environment.
The question will end up being whether the steps that were taken were enough. According to Beatrice Weston, there was no background check or home inspection prior to placing her in the house. On its face it seems like these are common steps that should be taken when placing a 10-year-old child in a home. However, the City might have evidence that Beatrice's mother asked for her to be placed with the aunt or other proof that it was reasonable.
At the very least, we know that Linda Ann Weston will be going to jail for her abuse. We will have to see if the City of Philadelphia must reimburse Beatrice Weston for her years of abuse as a victim of the "basement of horror."
- Looking for a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer? (FindLaw)
- Sandusky Victim 2 to Sue Penn State (FindLaw's Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog)
- Flushmate III: Exploding Toilets Recalled (FindLaw's Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog)