Danieal Kelly's parents sue DHS - Philadelphia News

Lawyer speaks: "It's outrageous"
August 12, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
Danieal Kelly's parents have filed a wrongful death suit. It is a document that has outraged the mayor and district attorney, who can't believe Danieal's parents had the nerve to sue the city, and that they were able to find a lawyer willing to take their case.

"I have never heard of anything so crazy in my life," Mayor Michael Nutter said.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages from the city because 14-year-old Danieal Kelly was under DHS supervision at the time of her death two years ago.

Danieal lived with her mother and nine brothers and sisters in a vermin infested row home.

She had cerebral palsy and couldn't fend for herself.

She weighed just 42 pounds and had a mass of open bedsores when she died.

Daniel's last word was "water."

"The parents, essentially, murdered their daughter and then turn around and sue us," Mayor Nutter said.

Danieal's mother Andrea Kelly is charged with murder.

Her father, Daniel Kelly, who didn't live in the house, is charged with endangering her welfare.

They filed the lawsuit against the city the day after they were arrested.

The district attorney can't believe any lawyer would take the case.

"I think this lessens the reputations of attorneys in general and doesn't do anything to them either; in my judgment, they look terrible as attorneys and professionals," D.A. Lynne Abraham The lawyers who filed the suit are Brian Mildenberg and Eric Zajac.

Action News tried to get responses from both lawyers.

At the home of lawyer Eric Zajac, who's also an elected member of the Radnor Township school board, there was no direct response to the D.A.'s explosive statements.

Zajac did refer Action News to a written statement saying they have filed legal petitions to have a trustee represent the estate in light of the charges against Danieal's parents. The statement says "if Danieal's parents are convicted, the proceeds would go to her brothers and sisters."

Abraham says the lawyers are only interested in what she calls, a fat payday for themselves.

"The other children are going to be well taken care of for the state and these lawyers are not suing for them, they're suing for themselves," Mayor Nutter said.

Brian Mildenberg responded to the case on Action News at 11: "It's just outrageous, it is outrageous. We are suing on behalf of Danieal Kelly. Her estate is suing. Her parents are not suing. There are legal beneficiaries to the estate that will be determined by Pennsylvania law by a judge in the orphan's court. We have no part in determining who the legal beneficiaries are and I'd like to make another comment because Lynne Abraham and Mayor Nutter stated that the remaining children would be taken care of by the state. Well, I hope they're taking care of better than the state took care of Danieal Kelly."

The lawsuit says Danieal suffered "unbearable conscious pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical and mental injuries."

It also says Danieal's parents have been deprived of, among other things, her love and companionship.

The D.A. wonders where was the love when Danieal was dying of starvation.

Mayor Nutter says the city will eventually seek reimbursement for whatever money it spends defending itself against the lawsuit.

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