WASHINGTON, D.C. – The District of Columbia has agreed to a $2.6 million settlement in the case of four children murdered in 2007 by their mother, Banita Jacks. The funds will be paid, over two years, to the legal heirs of the children’s estates. As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs have agreed to contribute part of the settlement funds to Safe Shores – the DC Children’s Advocacy Center, a non-profit charity devoted to the needs of abused and neglected children.
The children’s bodies were discovered at the family home on Sixth Street, S.E., on January 9, 2008, by United States Marshals who were serving an eviction notice. In 2007, the family had been the subject of an educational-neglect report to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) concerning the oldest daughter, Brittany. Banita Jacks had refused to allow a school social worker to enter the home or speak to the child. That social worker called the CFSA hotline and the Metropolitan Police Department. Ms. Jacks was convicted of the murders and is currently serving a prison sentence.
A lawsuit by legal heirs of the four children contended that the report of alleged neglect, coupled with other factors in the family’s history, should have placed CFSA on notice that the family required intensive social services to prevent harm to the children. The city denied liability, contending it had no basis to foresee the violent criminal acts of the mother.
Under the $2.6 million settlement, $1,012,500 will be paid to each of the estates of Aja Fogle and N’Kiah Fogle, $375,000 to the estate of Tatiana Jacks, and $200,000 to the estate of Brittany Jacks. The $2.6 million settlement also requires payment by plaintiffs of $245,000 to set up special needs and education trusts for living siblings and cousins of the deceased children, and $260,000 must be donated to the Safe Shores organization. A substantial amount will also be subtracted from the settlement to cover plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees.
Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said the case was settled to avoid the uncertainties of litigation and to speed closure of a painful experience for the family and the District.
CFSA has made many institutional improvements since the Jacks case came to light. These include improved training of workers answering the hotline and investigating reports, and measures to ensure that investigations are timely and thorough, as well as a change in leadership.
Attorney General Nathan said, “The settlement of this case ends a tragic story that stretches back six years. The District’s handling of child abuse reports has improved significantly since the grievous deaths of Banita Jacks’ children. We are confident that increased attention to thoroughness and quality and the new, dynamic leadership of Brenda Donald at CFSA have made the safety net for children at risk in the District much stronger.”
Ted Gest, Public Information Officer