New Jersey DYFS Settles Suit For $750,000
In a New Jersey lawsuit, our law firm represented the step sister of two deceased children who were killed by the hand of their father. Here is the local news story.
DYFS settles lawsuit
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
By JAIME MARINE
The state has settled a lawsuit filed by a woman who lost her mother and two siblings in a Millville murder-suicide that took place in May 2006.
Wendy Bennett McCarter, 35, was shot and killed by her husband, Scott McCarter, who also killed their two children, Scotty, 12, and Melanie, 6, before shooting himself at their Nabb Avenue home.
Scott McCarter had been barred from living with Wendy and his children because of a court order stemming from charges he allegedly molested two teenage girls from 2001 to 2004.
One of the girls was Wendy McCarter’s now 20-year-old daughter, Amanda Bennett, who filed the lawsuit against the Division of Youth and Family Services in Superior Court, in Camden County, in early 2007 through her attorney, Gregg Shivers, of Cherry Hill.
Shivers said Tuesday he couldn’t release details of the settlement, but Lee Moore, spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office, said Amanda Bennett received $750,000 in either July or August.
Moore said no further information on the settlement was available Tuesday afternoon.
Shivers said everyone felt it was “in the best interest of his client” to settle this lawsuit. He added he believed this was a fair settlement.
“There is never any closure when you lose your whole family,” Shivers said. “But she’ll be happy not to live it again through testimony.”
The 2007 lawsuit alleged DYFS ignored repeated warnings that Scott McCarter was disobeying an order barring him from spending nights at the family home when the children were present.
It further stated one DYFS worker intimidated and discouraged Bennett from filing a formal complaint with her concerns for her younger siblings safety, threatening that the youngest children would be put into foster care if she pressed the matter.
The suit did not seek a specific dollar figure in compensation.
Scott McCarter was arrested in July 2004, and in October was indicted on seven criminal counts, which included three charges of aggravated sexual assault, two charges of criminal sexual contact and two charges of endangering the welfare of a minor.
The Bennett family said from the time of McCarter’s arrest to the time of the murders, Amanda, Scotty and Melanie were under the supervision of DYFS.
Scott McCarter was scheduled to testify in his defense on May 25, 2006. But, when he didn’t arrive in court, a family friend went to the McCarter home and found Wendy, Scotty and Melanie lying in bed, dead from gunshot wounds.
In the living room of the home, Scott McCarter was found sitting in a chair, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Bennett was not in the home at the time of the killings. The teenager had gone to live with her biological father.
Eileen Bennett, Wendy Bennett McCarter’s stepmother, said Tuesday the family is happy to have some type of resolution to this lawsuit.
“We are glad it is over,” she said, adding there is no such thing as closure for them. “It is the beginning of healing for Amanda.”
Shivers said while this lawsuit has been resolved, there is still an active complaint against the man believed to have supplied McCarter with the weapon used in the murder-suicide.