Thomas Valva death: Mother of autistic boy who froze to death in garage can sue CPS for $200M
Justyna Zubko Valva claims to have warned child protection services and officials at her son’s school that eight-year-old Thomas was being abused by his father
RIVERHEAD, NEW YORK: Justyna Zubko Valva, the mother of an eight-year-old who froze to death in his father’s garage on January 17, 2020, can sue child protection services (CPS) and the school for $200 million over the murder case. This development comes after a federal judge advanced a civil lawsuit against various authorities last week, whom the mother claims should have intervened. The mother said that she presented the school with more than two years’ worth of evidence, including audio recordings, photographic evidence, and medical evidence before her son’s death but they didn't take any action.
According to the reports by DailyMail, Michael Valva, a former NYPD officer who has been charged in the murder along with his then-fiancee Angela Pollina, subjected the 8-year-old Thomas Valva and his brothers to punishments for years, forcing them to eat hot peppers, denying them access to the bathroom, and leaving them home alone without food or water. “Forcing Thomas and Anthony to sleep in subfreezing temperatures on a cold, cement slab in the garage was so common in Mr Valva and Ms Pollina’s household that they referred to the garage as the ‘kid’s room',” US District Judge Edward R Korman wrote in a 37-page ruling, summarizing the allegations of the complaint.
What is the ruling in this case?
Court records revealed that Thomas and Anthony Valva were both autistic. It said, “While the barbaric acts of Mr Valva and Ms Pollina are directly responsible for the death, there is an institutional actor that is almost as culpable,” Judge Korman continued. In three separate rulings filed late last week, the judge held the private and government actors for possible civil liability in the autistic boy’s death. These are divided into defendants associated with CPS, who face allegations of deliberate indifference, the boy’s school district, which faces wrongful death claims, and various attorneys accused of malpractice, as per the filing.
The ruling stated, "Mrs Valva was so worried about the children that she emailed the school’s principal that the children were in ‘enormous danger of losing their lives by Michael Valva and [Angela] Pollina," adding, "In January 2018, Mrs Valva alleges that ‘the School Defendants saw clear, irrefutable proof that Tommy had been physically beaten and abused by Valva, with severe bruising in his lower spine and buttocks area.'”
According to the mother, the school did not report suspicions of the father’s abuse until September 2018, a full year after Michael Valva was awarded custody of the children. The mother mentioned that the father tried to reverse the child abuse accusations, telling CPS that she was hitting the children and poisoning them. She added that she provided CPS officials with a flash drive containing 320 files of evidence showing that the opposite was true, including statements of the father brainwashing the children to repeat phrases like “I don’t love mommy,” “mommy is mean,” and “I don’t want to stay with mommy.”
The mother has alleged in the lawsuit that CPS officials lied again and again to advance the neglect investigation against the mother and faked evidence against her. According to Law and Crime, a judge has dismissed that neglect petition in the ruling and has ordered CPS to investigate child abuse allegations against Michael Valva. "Despite reports that the children looked 'emaciated', CPS closed out its final investigation 10 days before Tommy Valva’s death, according to the mother," the report by Law and Crime states.