John Devlin '98 Wins $2 Million Jury Verdict for Abused Foster Child

A  jury in Multnomah County, Oregon, unanimously awarded $2 million Wednesday to a former foster child (known as B.D.) who was abused and starved for two years while under the watch of state child welfare workers.

The boy's attorney, John Devlin, '98, successfully argued that the Oregon Department of Human Services repeatedly failed to protect the boy despite repeated reports to a child-abuse hotline.

Jurors awarded precisely the amount Devlin had asked for.

"This isn't just about helping (B.D.), it's also about helping other foster children by getting DHS to do a better job," Devlin said. "The defense was not only that (DHS) didn't do anything wrong, but that (B.D.) wasn't abused and starved."

The 3 1/2 week trial included testimony from about 50 witnesses, said Devlin. The boy, who is now 10, took the stand for a short while. He spoke of lingering memories of life in the double-wide trailer that his foster parents and seven other children shared. He said he remembered being forced to sleep in the dog house.

The boy has made a "remarkable" physical recovery, Devlin said. The jury's award will compensate the boy for what could be life-long psychological trauma.

"He's not the same kid he was when he was placed in the [foster] home," Devlin said.