Hennepin County Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit for $1.5 Million Over a Foster Child’s Death
Hennepin County reached a $1.5 million settlement with a woman whose 6-year-old granddaughter died in foster care in 2014.
Kendrea Johnson was found hanging from a bunk bed in her bedroom in her foster home in December, 2014. Her family believes it was a suicide.
An investigation revealed that Kendrea was knowingly put in a foster home of a woman who had been convicted of child abuse in the past.
According to the lawsuit, Kendrea’s mental health needs, including thoughts of suicide, were documented. Kendrea went to a treatment center in June 2014 and a mental health counselor noted that she was experiencing suicidal or homicidal behavior at least every other day.
She even told her foster mother she wanted to jump out of a window and die. She also drew a stick-figure of a child hanging from a rope and kept it in her folder.
The lawsuit stated that Kendrea’s child protection worker told police the day after her death that he wasn’t aware of any suicidal ideations or mental disorders. He said that he checked in her with her regularly and she seemed to be doing fine.
Mary Broadus, Kendrea’s grandmother, filed a lawsuit against Hennepin County, stating that the “unconscionable and unconstitutional indifference” to Kendrea’s medical needs and suicidal thoughts “manifested itself at every level of Hennepin County’s broken child protection system.”
Broadus’ lawyers said the settlement amount is “one of the highest settlements against a government entity in Minnesota on claims involving the deliberate indifference to the welfare of a foster child.”
“That should never be dismissed on anyone. It should always be taken seriously and followed up on,” Jeffrey Montpetit, one of her lawyers, said.
Broadus said that she is just worn out after dealing with the lawsuit for two years.
“It will never be over for me because I’ll always have those feelings,” she said. “I just think of her smiling at me and I’m at peace.”
Marketa Gentry, Kendrea’s aunt, said that she’s happy with how the case turned out and hopes that Kendrea’s death will help reveal injustices in the foster care system.
Hennepin County released this statement: “Any loss of life is tragic, but the loss of someone so young is especially tragic. We are here to protect children – and we do that every day. We take that charge very seriously. However, in light of the significant costs and uncertainties, settling this lawsuit was in the best interest of all the parties involved.”
If you know someone who has suffered from a wrongful death, it may be in your best interest to reach out to Cohen & Cohen