Fogarty-Hardwick v. County of Orange, et al.

Order Granting Fees Incurred on Appeal


After a decade of litigation, Orange County must now pay nearly $9.5 million to a mother whose children were wrongfully removed from her care in February 2000. On December 17, 2010 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) awarded Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick nearly $1 million in attorney’s fees to help defray the cost of defending her judgment and jury verdict on appeal. These fees are in addition to the $1.6 million judge Bauer awarded to attorneys for their work at trial. On March 23, 2007 an Orange County Jury found against Orange County, social worker Marcia Vreeken, and social worker supervisor Helen Dwojak and awarded monetary damages of $4.9 million. In total, including interest, costs, and attorneys fees Orange County must pay Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick naerly $9.5 million. A third social worker, Elaine Wilkins was found not liable.

The case was originally filed in February 2001 by Deanna Fogarty against the County of Orange, Marcia Vreeken, Elaine Wilkins, and their supervisor Helen Dwojak to recover damages arising from these defendants’ falsification of evidence, perjury, and suppression of exculpatory evidence during a juvenile dependency action in February of 2000. On March 23, 2007, an Orange County jury found against Orange County, social worker Marcia Vreeken, and social worker supervisor Helen Dwojak and awarded monetary damages of $4.9 million. Elaine Wilkins was found not liable.

In addition to seeking damages, Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick also obtained an injunction against the Orange County Social Services Agency prohibiting its practice of making allegations of wrong doing against parents in dependency proceedings without supporting evidence. The California Court of Appeal reversed the injunction, but in a scathing opinion upheld the remainder of the judgment and jury verdict.

Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick is pleased with Judge Bauer’s decision and remains hopeful that Orange County will take steps to ensure that its policies comport with law, and that its workers follow the law and refrain from injuring other families the way they injured hers.

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Reference Info:Decision | State, 9th Circuit, California | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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