The family of a 2-year-old girl who died in 2017 as a result of neglect and injuries she received in foster care filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging the conditions that led to the girl’s death were obvious and should have led to an intervention before she died.


The suit, brought by Thomas Hunziker, a grandfather of Arianna Hunziker, names as defendants a Hennepin County social worker and an Allina Health doctor and nurse as well as Allina Health Systems. Also named in the suit are the Brooklyn Park foster parents, Sherrie Dirk, who was sentenced last year to 32 years in prison, and her husband, Bryce Dirk, serving 12½ years in prison, both for second-degree murder. She is incarcerated in the Minnesota Correctional Institution in Shakopee and he is in the state correctional institution in Moose Lake.

Arianna Hunziker “was starved, dehydrated, bound, immobilized and abandoned in a home littered in trash and smelling of urine,” the lawsuit says. Her weight and height dropped and she ate rocks, pea gravel, dirt, paper, crayons and trash and became socially withdrawn, along with “countless other signs and symptoms of neglect and abuse.”

The suit alleges she was sedated with improperly prescribed medication and wrapped in bedsheets that left her alone and immobilized in her room. Arianna died on Nov. 6, 2017.

The suit alleges that her county social worker, Patricia Doherty, and Dr. Robert Marshall and Kristen Medhanie, a nurse practitioner, both with Allina Health, became aware of “red flags” but did nothing to help the child.

Instead, the suit says, the child’s “suffering continued unchecked and unabated.”

Source: Star Tribune

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