NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The state of New Mexico will be paying a big chunk of change to two former New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department caseworkers who claim they were forced to quit their jobs after blowing the whistle on a case they say was mishandled. That case ended up getting national attention when one of the kids was treated in a North Carolina hospital for a brain bleed.
The lawsuit filed back in 2020, claimed the two women were forced to quit their jobs because they were being harassed after speaking out about the high-profile case. They will be awarded more than $300,000 combined.
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In 2019, four kids were found living in a van with their parents, Luiza Badea and Andrei Ducila, in a Walmart parking lot in Hobbs. They were immediately taken into CYFD custody, but Ivy Woodward and Kelly Mazy, the two former case workers, claim the agency wanted to send the kids back with their parents. Woodward even claims she was asked to tell the court the parents could take care of their kids, which she says was a lie.
“She was put in a position between telling the truth, or risk getting fired,” said Benjamin Gubernick, one of the attorneys on the case. The kids were temporarily placed in their parent’s care, as a test run to determine if they could eventually be reunited permanently. During a routine check-up, a CYFD case worker noticed the parents and their kids were missing. Months later, the youngest ended up in a North Carolina hospital with a brain bleed.
Court documents say CYFD ordered staff to stay quiet about the case and goes on to say Woodward and Mazy who worked on the case for a year, were retaliated against. Attorney Todd Bullion says Woodward was removed front he case altogether, he says Mazy was harassed and bullied for months. Both women left the agency before settling the case.
Another lawsuit was filed against CYFD on behalf of the kids in this case. That is a federal lawsuit because the abuse spanned multiple states. That case is still ongoing.
Woodward’s settlement was made public yesterday, she settled for $250,000.