INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana man whose 1-year-old son died of head injuries has filed a claim with the state alleging the Department of Child Services failed to conduct a reasonable investigation after he reported the boy was abused while in the care of the child's mother.
The Marion County coroner ruled Jayden Noel died Jan. 18 from "multiple blunt-force traumatic injuries to the head." Jayden's mother, Chelsea Taylor, 20, and her boyfriend Ryan Worline, 29, have been charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Both have pleaded innocent.
The boy's father, Jerraco Noel of Shelbyville, filed a tort claim with the attorney general's office Thursday that seeks $700,000 in damages, the most allowed under state law. The state can either agree to pay the claim or deny it, freeing Noel to proceed with a lawsuit against DCS.
DCS spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland says the agency is reviewing the tort claim and awaiting a formal response from the attorney general's office.
The Indianapolis Star reported that Noel called DCS last year to report his son had been abused and treated at a hospital. DCS investigated, but found the allegation to be "unsubstantiated," according to the newspaper report.
The tort claim notice contends DCS failed to communicate with any of Jayden's health care providers after the abuse report last summer and also did not consult with any child abuse experts about the nature and alleged circumstances of the boy's injuries.
In July, a Marion County judge criticized the emergency room physician who treated Jayden during the July 15, 2011, hospital visit, saying he should have reported his suspicion that the child's injuries were the result of abuse.
Noel's claim alleges DCS investigators also missed red flags and failed to protect Jayden.
"Whether the failure to protect Jayden was due to a lack of competence and training, or simply because nobody really cared enough to do their job is something that DCS and Jayden's healthcare providers need to figure out and correct sooner rather than later," his claim says.