8 Jun 2009

Court rejects parents' claim against CYF

3:18 pm on 8 June 2009

A mother and father have failed in a bid for compensation from Child, Youth and Family for the death of their baby son in foster care.

Four-month-old Patrick Martin died nearly two weeks after he was taken in 2002.

As part of a long-running case, his mother Louise Martin told Auckland District Court last year that she "blew out of proportion" a call saying she put her hand on his mouth.

The call was made to her husband who notified Maternity Mental Health Services.

The pair later claimed Child, Youth and Family breached a duty of care.

A reserved judgment has now been issued.

Judge Phil Gittos said he does not find the allegations that the agency failed to consult with the pair proven, nor their concerns about Patrick's standard of care.

He says there was no evidence that a social worker tried to mislead the pair and there was no foundation for their allegation of misfeasance of public office.

The judge said there was not a shred of evidence to suggest malice or recklessness on the part of Child, Youth and Family.

He said the parents had comprehensively failed to establish liability.

He added that, as a matter of law, grief alone is not compensatible.

Judge Gittos also said that the threshold of proof had not been achieved in evidence put forward that the Martins had suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Ms Martin says Child, Youth and Family has got off scot-free, but there are no further legal avenues she can pursue.

She says she will never agree with the judgment.

The coroner cleared the department of any blame in 2003. It was ruled that Patrick's death was from sudden infant death syndrome.