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The Deratany Firm has filed a lawsuit against Cuyahoga County’s Department of Children and Family Services on behalf of the estate of a five-year-old girl who was murdered in 2017.

Ta’Naejah McCloud died after suffering severe head and brain injuries as well as burns. Prior to her death, she had been subjected to severe physical abuse and was living in a dilapidated, unsafe home. Ta’Naejah’s mother and her girlfriend have been sent to prison for her death, but according to attorney¬†Jay Paul Deratany, the Department of Children and Family Services bears responsibility as well.

“The home was dilapidated; it should have been condemned. She was five years old. There were cockroaches; there were rats in the home, and they ignored signs of abuse going on for six months,” said Deratany. “The case worker had been there the day before and they had been there eight times in the previous month and there’s no way, shape, or form that they should not have seen the signs and symptoms of this child being abused.”

The lawsuit claims that the Department of Children and Families should have removed Ta’Naejah from the home. The firm is also investigating potential legal action against doctors, nurses and other parties who likewise should have seen the signs that Ta’Naejah was being abused.

The firm hopes the litigation will force the government to take more action to protect endangered children. “Of course we look for monetary damages, but that’s the only way to impact; it’s called impact litigation,” said attorney Deratany.

“These kids, the most vulnerable, precious kids that we have in our society, they are dependent on the system and if the system fails them, this is what happens. We end up with a young, little girl who lost her life as a result of professionals who just didn’t do their job. And I think that’s what we are striving for to make sure that we can prevent this from happening,” said attorney¬†Roosevelt Allen.

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