CLEVELAND- A lawsuit is filed on behalf of a five-year-old girl abused and murdered by her mother and mother’s girlfriend. The estate of Ta’Naejah McCloud is suing Cuyahoga County’s Department of Children and Family Services.
"The home was dilapidated; it should have been condemned. She was five years old. There were cockroaches; there were rats in the home, and they ignored signs of abuse going on six months," said Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany.
Deratany says he wants justice for Ta'Naejah McCloud.
"The case worker had been there the day before and they had been there eight times in the previous month and there's no way, shape, or form that they should not have seen signs and symptoms of this child being abused," Deratany said.
"I'm whoopin’ her and I'm whoopin’ her and I'm whoopin’ her and she just screamin’ like I got five belts, bats and just everything," the girl’s mother explains in a police interrogation video.
"I'm sorry for the baby because we never, never meant for nothing to happen to her," explains her girlfriend.
In March of 2017, Ta'Naejah died after suffering severe head and brain injuries, as well as burns.
This past July, her mother, Tequila Crump was sentenced to 13 years in prison; her girlfriend, Ursula Owens, was sentenced to 25 years to life for the girl's death.
"In fact, this child was in the emergency room; she was abused so many times that there were doctors, nurses and other parties that may actually be, we may be filing against as well," said Deratany.
Jay Deratany says the lawsuit claims the Department of Children and Family Services should have removed Ta'Naejah from the home and could have done more to protect her and other children in high-profile abuse cases this year.
"Had they abided by the rules of this state basically, then they would have caught this, but there's a systemic problem," said the attorney.
"Of course we look for monetary damages, but that's the only way to impact; it's called impact litigation," he said.
This summer, the Department of Children and Family Services announced reforms after the death of four-year-old Aniya Day Garrett. Her mother and boyfriend are accused of killing her.
A spokeswoman for Cuyahoga County says she has not seen the lawsuit, so she cannot comment on it.
She did say county authorities will review the lawsuit when they receive it, and will respond to it in court.