Mingo Co. woman blames DHHR for adopted son's brain damage

By Annie Cosby | Sep 16, 2014

CHARLESTON – A Mingo County woman is suing over claims her adopted son suffered brain damage as a result of abuse by his biological father that could have been prevented by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Jamie Russell, individually and as the mother, legal guardian and next friend of H.R., a child under the age of 18, filed a lawsuit Aug. 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court against West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, citing negligence.

According to the complaint, prior to H.R.'s birth, his biological father, Justin "Rooster" Russell was accused of child abuse and as a result his parental rights to four other children were terminated by Mingo Circuit Court.

The complaint states when H.R. was born Feb. 22, 2010, he was allowed to reside with his biological mother, Amanda Mitchem and Justin Russell, despite the aggravated circumstances recorded by the defendant. According to the lawsuit, on May 10, 2010, H.R. was shaken by his father and suffered shaken baby syndrome, including brain damage, seizures, blindness, paralysis, and decreased life expectancy.

The complaint states Justin Russell was arrested on May 13, 2010, and plead guilty to child abuse. Jamie Russell, H.R.'s adoptive mother, is suing the defendants for negligence in failing to abide by its own internal rules in investigating the aggravated situation or removing H.R. from the abusive home.

Jamie Russell is represented by attorneys Della Cline-Gentile and H. Truman Chafin of Williamson. The case has been assigned to circuit judge Louis H. Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 14-C-1389

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