Catholic Charities in Ohio found partially negligent in 5-year-old’s 2017 death

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Catholics Charities Corporation in Ohio was found partially negligent this week in the 2017 death of a 5-year-old boy who was being supervised by one of the organization’s caseworkers at the time he died.

A jury in Cuyahoga County ruled in the wrongful death suit that the Catholic charity group was 8% responsible for Jordan Rodriguez’s September 2017 death, local media reported. Rodriguez’s body was discovered buried in his mother’s backyard three months after he died.

The boy’s mother and her boyfriend earlier pleaded guilty to several charges stemming from his death, including involuntary manslaughter. Jordan was developmentally disabled and incapable of speaking.

In the civil wrongful death trial this week, Catholic Charities Corporation was ordered to pay $960,000 into Jordan Rodriguez’s estate. Several other defendants, including the boy’s mother and the county’s Department of Child and Family Services, were also found responsible. 

A caseworker contracted by the organization, Nancy Caraballo, had been assigned to Rodriguez’s case and was supposed to be checking on the boy, but she falsified reports and took bribes in connection with a food stamp scheme instead.

Caraballo had previously pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced to three years in prison, though she ultimately served only eight months. She was ordered to pay $240,000 in the civil case this week. 

The lawsuit had argued in part that the Catholic charity organization had failed to properly train and supervise Caraballo and thus failed to detect the false reports she had filed. 

Richard Blake, an attorney representing Catholic Charities Corporation in the case, told CNA on Wednesday that there is “an active gag order prohibiting us from going into any detail or making any comments about the matter.”

“There’s still another portion of the law that permits punitive damages,” he said. A court date is set for next week, he added. 

Catholic Charities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. 

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