Attorneys John C. Taylor and Louanne Masry of Taylor & Ring, a Los Angeles-based trial law firm, filed a lawsuit for the physical abuse, battery and neglect of a minor male (D.P.) with developmental disabilities while he was a resident at Serenity Home, a children’s residential group home in Garden Grove, California. Over the course of D.P.’s stay at the home, he sustained increasingly severe bruises, abrasions and other injuries – all of which were purposefully concealed from D.P.’s parents and falsely misrepresented as side effects from medication D.P. was taking. The lawsuit was filed against the operator, CHJ Enterprises, LLC; Serenity Home; facility employees, including Henry Balanza, Sr., Danilo Habab and Merida Balanza; and social worker Sue Raymond.
“D.P. was subjected to endless physical abuse and neglect by the very people who are supposed to watch over him,” said Masry, partner at Taylor & Ring, and recognized as one of the most respected personal injury trial lawyers in California. “The defendants were not trained to care for those with developmental disorders, and they knew D.P.’s health and well-being was at risk, but failed to take action and even went so far as to lie about how his injuries occurred.”
In early November 2015, D.P. began his residency at Serenity Home for assistance with personal and custodial care, development of language and other skills, as well as regular one-to-one supervision. On multiple occasions between November 2015 and May 2017, D.P suffered extreme bruising, abrasions and other severe injuries on his body, none of which were reported to D.P.’s parents. Some abuse events include:
- June 2016: D.P. sustained injuries and abrasions to his left eye as noted in a doctor’s written report. The injury was not reported to D.P.’s parents or California Social Services.
- November 2016: D.P. was a student at a special education program associated with Irvine High School and was taken to and from school on a school bus. D.P.’s teacher authored a report noting that D.P. had arrived at school with bruising around his left eye and chin. A copy of the report was provided to Serenity Home, but again was not reported to D.P.’s parents or California Social Services.
- May 11, 2017: Concerned with their son’s bruising, D.P.’s parents requested a meeting with Serenity Home employee Henry Balanza, social worker Sue Raymond and D.P.’s doctor to determine if the doctor believed that the medication that he was prescribing had bruising as a side effect. The doctor concluded that D.P.’s bruising was not a side effect of the medication and expressed this finding to Raymond, Balanza and D.P.’s parents.
- May 23, 2017: D.P. was discovered by his school bus driver as having a swollen and bruised face with bruises on his arms, and reported these findings to the school. The school contacted Serenity Home employee Henry Balanza indicating that D.P. needed medical attention. Balanza called D.P.’s father and falsely stated that “D.P. had a black eye after being injured on the school bus.” D.P. was later taken by his mother to the emergency department at Hoag Hospital in Irvine, California.
- May 24, 2017: D.P.’s mother noticed D.P.’s bruising and swelling on his face and body had severely worsened and his eyes were nearly swollen shut. D.P. was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County at Mission Hospital (CHOC) where doctors noted he had sustained an assault, including a closed head injury, swelling of his face, eyes, and head, and total body bruising. He was later placed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and was discharged several days later.
While D.P. was admitted to CHOC, law enforcement and the Department of Social Services were notified and an investigation was conducted. In November 2017, the investigation concluded that Serenity Home violated state regulations and requirements of ensuring care and supervision of D.P., and Serenity Home was cited for these violations.