Man sues county over wrongful death in Goshen

(Rigo Moran)

A lawsuit singles out an alleged failure of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and Child Welfare Services, claims county failed to prevent the deaths of two minors killed in Goshen massacre

GOSHEN – The father, and fiancé, of two victims in the January Goshen murders has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the County of Tulare, as well as 11 individuals working for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and Tulare County Child Welfare Services.

Attorneys Wyatt Vespermann and David Rudorfer filed the lawsuit on behalf of plaintiff Shayne Maupin on Aug. 4, claiming that Child Welfare Services (CWS) and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) “failed to abide by their mandatory duties, causing the tragic deaths of Nycholas Parraz and Alissa Parraz.” Maupin sued the county individually and as the successor-in-interest to Nycholas Parraz, the 10-month-old son of Maupin and Alissa Parraz.

“Our main focus here is to hold these governmental agencies accountable for what appears to be a very egregious event of government negligence,” Vespermann, who works for Los Angeles-based firm Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP, said.

Alissa Parraz and Nycholas Parraz were two of the six Goshen residents killed in an early-morning execution-style attack Jan. 16, which the sheriff’s office has tied to gang activity in the area. Alissa, who was 17 years old at the time of her death, gave birth to Nycholas on March 1, 2022. She and Maupin, who lives in Modoc County, were high school sweethearts and had been engaged since December 2021, according to the lawsuit.

“Right now, we are seeking to make Shayne whole,” Vespermann said. “He has now lost a lifetime of love, support and companionship of a beloved son that he only knew for a short amount of time.”

Representatives from Tulare County said the county has received the complaint and “will give the matter careful consideration.”

The lawsuit outlined events between March 2022 and January 2023, which – from the lawsuit’s account – show that agents of the county acted with “deliberate indifference” with regard to their job duties as mandated by law.

It detailed allegations of a failure by county officials to perform their mandated duties, negligence by the county in the hiring and supervision of its employees, and violations of the plaintiff’s and decedent’s first and 14th amendment rights. From what was noted in the lawsuit, the violations were caused by the practices of the county departments.

According to the lawsuit, the mandatory duties of CWS, which are meant to prevent child abuse and neglect in the state, involve keeping children in their own home when it is safe and developing an alternate plan when the child is at risk. Additionally, the lawsuit said that existing law “imposes a duty” on law enforcement to report any concerns to CWS for anyone “who knows or reasonably suspects” the condition of a child’s home to be unsuitable because of abuse or neglect.

After Nycholas’s birth, CWS was notified that Alissa was unable to care for the newborn’s basic needs, at which time a social worker was assigned to the case, according to the lawsuit.

As a minor herself, Alissa “had an extensive history with CWS” dating back to 2015, with 11 reports concerning her endangerment. Those reports described how members of her family were involved in street gangs and that there were “multiple shoot outs occuring at the family’s home — the Goshen Household” where the killings eventually took place.

“This information was readily available to any CWS Social Worker that bothered to look,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit described the actions of CWS workers throughout their investigation of Nycholas’ living conditions and Alissa’s ability to retain custody of her son. According to the lawsuit, CWS workers failed to conduct mandated assessments as well as share information that could have kept Nycholas and Alissa out of the household where they died.

Furthermore, the lawsuit said that TCSO failed in its duties when officers did not properly report concerns of Alissa and Nycholas’s possible child abuse and neglect after conducting a warrant check at the Goshen household on Jan. 3 – 13 days prior to the killings.

The lawsuit said seven TCSO personnel conducted a probation compliance check at the Goshen residence wherein they found: “13 rounds of live ammunition … in an unlocked shed;” a resident of the household who confirmed to a law enforcement officer that he was active in a gang; and a search of the premises, where they found methamphetamine, AR-style rifles with no serial number, multiple guns, ammunition, shell casings and bullet holes.

According to the lawsuit, the officers “failed to investigate Alissa Parraz’s circumstances, a minor who was present at the time of the warrant check, and Nycholas Parraz’s circumstances … whose presence in the home was readily apparent by virtue of his crib and other belongings, to determine whether … the Goshen Household was unsuitable for minors.” 

Vespermann added that his firm’s investigation “shows that there is a systemic issue” with the Tulare County CWS, “in particular with regard to infants.”

“It’s not that big of an ask to have them take care of the most vulnerable amongst us,” Vespermann said. “And yet CWS continue to put these children in very dangerous environments that ultimately have led to numerous deaths.”

Maupin is seeking compensatory damages from the county and the individual defendants named in the lawsuit, as well as punitive damages from the individual defendants, “in an amount sufficient to deter and to make an example of them,” according to the lawsuit.

Vespermann said they will begin the process of discovery in two weeks and the initial hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 6.

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