- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The grandparents of a boy who was severely beaten by his father as an infant are asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to reinstate a $102 million judgment against the child welfare system.

They want the justices to review an appeals court finding that the state worker who investigated the case before the beating acted in good faith, NJ.com reports (https://bit.ly/2qTuwh9 ). The three-judge panel ruled in April that the caseworker didn’t break any rules and said the boy’s father bore sole blame for the “devastating” injuries.

The caseworker, employed by what was then known as the Division of Youth and Family Services, had implemented a plan to prevent the father, Joshua Velesquez, from being alone with the infant, Jadiel Velesquez. But that plan had expired when the 4-month-old boy was beaten.

The lawyer for Jadiel’s grandparents said the appeals court’s decision grants broad immunity to government employees and will make it more difficult to hold them accountable.

“It will make it almost impossible to prevail on many other types of cases where the public employee can rely on good-faith immunity unless the plaintiff proves actual fraud, actual malice, a crime or willful misconduct,” the attorney, David Mazie, said.

The attorney general’s office, representing the state, declined to comment.

Jadiel, now 8, is blind and has brain damage from the 2009 beating. He is unable to walk and needs constant care. His grandparents, Neomi Escobar and Jose Betances of Hillside, are his legal guardians.

Joshua Velesquez was sentenced to six years in prison on aggravated assault charges in connection with the beating. He has since been released.

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