RAM Law’s Matt Bonanno and PCVA Law’s Vincent Nappo Obtain Historic $25 Million Verdict in First Child Victims Act Trial Against State of New Jersey

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On March 12, 2024, the State of New Jersey awarded a historic $25 million in a trial verdict to a survivor of child sex abuse in the first case brought to trial under the Child Victims Act. The case was against the state’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).

The unanimous trial verdict, issued from Middlesex County in New Brunswick, found DYFS 99% liable for gross negligence through numerous failures to supervise and protect the plaintiff while in foster care, which exposed the plaintiff to vicious sexual abuse and revictimization.

Having been placed in the state’s foster care system at only five years old due to ongoing issues
of parental drug abuse and neglect, the plaintiff faced heinous sexual abuse across three different foster homes by four separate perpetrators, two of whom were later convicted, from 1990-1993.

Vincent Nappo, lead attorney for the plaintiff at Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (“PCVA”) stressed the state’s glaring negligence in allowing the abuse go unchecked for years at length: “The State of New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services failed to supervise and protect our client for years and years. They left our client exposed to unthinkable acts of sexual abuse and rape in three foster homes when she was just six to nine years old. The verdict sends a signal to institutions that failing to take accountability and do the right thing has consequences. We are grateful to the jurors that devoted countless hours of their time for their efforts to help serve justice and to the Court for creating an impactful precedent in institutional accountability.”

Matthew Bonanno, lead attorney for the plaintiff at Rebenack Aronow Mascolo LLP (“RAM”), highlighted the case’s significance in establishing precedent for the Department’s institutional liability: “This is the first Child Victims Act case brought to trial against the State of New Jersey. The jury unanimously ruled in our client’s favor and rejected DCPP’s pleas to place the blame on the perpetrators, and instead held the Department 99% liable for the $25 million verdict. We hope this sends a message to DCPP in similar foster care abuse cases and helps bring those cases to resolution without the need for weeks-long jury trials.”

Attorneys from the law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (“PCVA”) and Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo (“RAM”), represent nearly 175 CVA related cases across the state of New Jersey.

The momentous verdict concludes a long fight for the plaintiff to secure restitution and accountability under New Jersey’s landmark legislation, S477 – the “Child Victims Act.” The law opened a two-year window that suspended the statute of limitations for civil claims arising from child sexual abuse and provided survivors with a unique, unprecedented opportunity to seek restitution and accountability for the abuse they suffered.

About PCVA Law & RAM Law
Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (PCVA), one of the leading law firms in the United States fighting for the rights of sexual abuse survivors, represents more than 1,000 people who have filed lawsuits under the Child Victims Act and Adult Survivors Act in New York. In addition, since 2004, PCVA has represented hundreds of abuse survivors in substantial and complex bankruptcy proceedings around the country, including New Jersey’s Camden Diocese. Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo LLP (RAM) is a leading New Brunswick, Somerville, and Freehold, NJ firm specializing in personal injury and accident cases, holding an unwavering commitment to securing fair compensation for plaintiffs’ injuries. Attorneys from RAM and PCVA are thoroughly familiar with cases against the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, Mormon Church, Big Brothers Big Sisters, private and public schools, and others, and how the statute of limitations reform was implemented in other states.

This story has also been featured in several news outlets, including:

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