Okla. DHS settles suit of mistaken pickup of girl

 OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The state Department of Human Services has agreed to pay $9,500 to settle a lawsuit filed after a temporary worker picked up the wrong girl from a central Oklahoma elementary school more than six years ago.

The Oklahoman reported Saturday that Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis approved the settlement. The girl, now 16, was a student at Clara Reynolds Elementary School in Harrah when the DHS worker picked her up by mistake on April 14, 2006.

"It was just a mix-up," DHS attorney Richard Freeman said. "Once it was determined there had been a mistake, we rectified it as soon as possible."

The temporary social work aide was supposed to pick up a different girl for a supervised visit with that girl's family, Freeman said. The girls had similar first names, he said.

The aide's employment with DHS ended in July 2006, records show. She was never rehired.

The parents of the girl who was mistakenly picked up sued Harrah Public Schools and DHS in 2007. The school district settled in 2010, also paying $9,500.

The lawsuit alleged the DHS worker "failed to read the `pickup order' for the correct child and effectively took the wrong girl from her school, without cause, transporting her to the Midwest City office of ... DHS."

On the way, the aide questioned the child about allegations from the case involving the other girl "all the while (the student) ... kept asking about her parents," according to the lawsuit.

"The DHS case worker advised ... they were going to see her father in the hospital," the lawsuit said. "(The girl) ... was taken to the Department of Human Services, detained and questioned regarding matters unknown to her. It was only then that DHS employees discovered they had taken the wrong child."

The family's attorney, Mikel Flores, declined to comment on the lawsuit this week, according to the newspaper. The mother told the judge her daughter had no lasting effects from the incident.

The girl's share of the two settlements is $12,184.75, court orders show. Her attorney's share for his services and costs is $6,815.25.

Freeman said the DHS settlement will be paid from insurance funds.

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