Grandmother files lawsuit against Virginia Beach over baby’s death

Posted at 4:39 PM, Oct 29, 2014

One Suffolk grandmother believes the city of Virginia Beach played a part in her grandson's death.

Shirley Hodges is suing the city and 8 employees of it's Human Services and Child Protective Services department for nearly $4.4 million dollars.

In the lawsuit filed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court this week, Hodges claims Child Protective Services didn't do their job investigating the mother of 13-month old Devon Barrington-Abbot.

His mother, Amanda Barrington,  told police she found the infant dead the morning November 26, 2012. The autopsy showed he died of starvation and dehydration and showed he had a brain injury and bruises on his body.

The 23-year old mother is now in jail serving a three-year sentence for felony child neglect.

She was arrested 10 months after baby Devon was found dead and spoke to only NewsChannel 3 shortly after.

"Next month would have been his two-year birthday and a month after that the one year anniversary of his death, and they're gonna come after me and  try to tell me I did that? Really?" she asked. "I really don't want to believe it. I still feel like I'm in shock. I don't like to talk about it because I get upset."

When the baby died, CPS was investigating Amanda Barrington. But in the lawsuit, the grandmother claims they didn't do a good enough job.

It says CPS failed to do follow up visits, drug tests or check on the baby's welfare while they were investigating. The complain listed on example of when CPS went to do a home visit but Barrington refused to let them in, so the home visit was conducted in the doorway. Exactly one week later, baby Devon was dead.

Shirley Hodges attorney, Robert Haddad, told NewsChannel 3 she did not want to say anything about the case, but he says the city could have and should have done more to prevent Devon's death.

Click here to read the entire lawsuit.

The city's Deputy Attorney sent the following statement to NewsChannel 3 regarding the lawsuit:

"As we discussed, the City Attorney’s office has just today received a copy of the lawsuit in this matter, and we are in the process of reviewing it.  For that reason, we can only offer some very preliminary comments.  First, it is always a terrible tragedy when a child dies.  In this instance, the lawsuit makes clear that the child died in the custody of his mother, not in the care or custody of the Virginia Beach Department of Human Services.  While state confidentiality laws prohibit me from commenting specifically about the services this family may have been receiving around the time of the child’s death, I can tell you that based on the information known to us at this time, we do not believe the facts will support a negligence or gross negligence claim against the City or its employees.  Accordingly, we intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit. As an aside, the current director of VBDHS, Dannette Smith, was not even employed by the City at the time of the events giving rise to the lawsuit. "