Mifflin County agrees to pay $100K to mother who says she was wrongly accused of child abuse

By Dee Thompson | Jan 16, 2018

HARRISBURG – A mother who alleged she was falsely accused of abusing her minor child has reached a settlement with Mifflin County and other individuals.

The mother and child are not identified by name but by initial, with the mother (K.S.) filing the civil suit on behalf of herself and the child (B.H.) last January in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The defendants are child welfare caseworkers Casey O'Dell and Kristen Matula; supervisor David L. Smith; and doctors Pat J. Bruno and Evan Wallace Crowe.

The mother alleged that her child had not been properly diagnosed as suffering from Von Willebrand disease, a condition in which skin bruises easily. The mother was accused of abusing the child.

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 5, 2017.

According to the petition to approve compromise and settlement of minor’s claim as to defendants Mifflin County, O’Dell, Matula and Smith, “On behalf of defendants Mifflin County, Casey O’Dell, Kristen Matula, and David L. Smith, an offer to compromise the claims of the plaintiffs and of B.H., a minor, for the payment of the sum of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00), and to Mark D. Freeman, Esq., the sum of Twenty Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000) for attorneys fees and costs, was communicated and accepted by the plaintiffs, through their counsel.” 

The settlement petition notes that although plaintiff J.H. is not the natural father of the child, it specifies that he will be a recipient of $99,000 along with the mother. The funds for the child ($1,000) will be placed in an account and not released to him until he reaches the age of majority.

Mark. D. Freeman is the attorney for the plaintiffs. The judge in the matter is the Yvette Kane.

An order was filed on Aug. 30 and signed by Kane, approving the settlement.

According to the National Hemophilia Foundation, Von Willebrand’s Disease is a common disorder that affects 1 percent of the population. Those with it bruise easily and experience excessive bleeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that “Child abuse might be suspected when children present with cutaneous bruising, intracranial hemorrhage, or other manifestations of bleeding.” 

However, it cautions against jumping to conclusions, noting that “In these cases, it is necessary to consider medical conditions that predispose to easy bleeding/bruising. When evaluating for the possibility of bleeding disorders and other conditions that predispose to hemorrhage, the pediatrician must consider the child’s presenting history, medical history, and physical examination findings before initiating a laboratory investigation.”

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