Green Room

NYC mom sues city for $900 trillion for taking custody of her children

posted at 1:12 pm on February 9, 2012 by

A woman who claims that the city of New York violated her and her children’s civil liberties by placing them in foster care has filed a civil suit. In and of itself, the story is sad but unremarkable. What makes it worthy of commentary is the amount that the plaintiff is seeking in damages—$900 trillion, a sum that exceeds the nation’s Gross National Product many times over.

The plaintiff, 46-year-old Fausat Ogunbayo, of Staten Island, was forced to surrender her two sons to the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) in 2008 after the agency investigated reports that she placed the children at risk by leaving them at home alone for several hours each day. A psychiatric evaluation revealed that Ogunbayo suffers from hallucinations but refused mental health treatment.

According to her lawsuit, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, Ogunbayo contends that the government “recklessly disregarded” her “right to family integrity” and that she is in fact mentally stable. She further submits that her children, who were 9 and 12 at the time of their removal, suffered undue “emotional and mental distress” as a result.

The city released a statement to the effect that it is “unable to comment on pending litigation” but that “the amount a plaintiff requests in a lawsuit has no bearing on whether the case has any merit and no relation to actual damages if any.”

Yet, it is the dollar amount specified in the suit that has catapulted the story into the headlines. The New York Post, one of the first news outlets to report the suit, quips that if Ogunbayo wins, “she could pay off the US national debt and still have $885 trillion left.”

The Post also quotes one of her neighbors as saying, “she has this ritual where, every night around 2:30 a.m. or so, she starts chanting things like, ‘Fight those who fight against me,’ and ‘Hallelujah.’” Yahoo! News cites specific other examples of her alleged mental instability:

Ogunbayo wrote to her children’s former school, insisting that the FBI and Secret Service were after her children and that their skin was becoming darker due to radiation exposure.

The website also reports that Ogunbayo is representing herself in the case.

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It’s not Ogunbayo that’s crazy, it’s her lawyer!

Hueydriver on February 9, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Any press is good press, right?

Marcola on February 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM

The website also reports that Ogunbayo is representing herself in the case.

As a law librarian, I’ve had to help people like this. They are mentally ill.

rbj on February 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Ah, yes. The city took away her children because she was paranoid about… the government taking away her children.

Granted, it seems like she probably has some mental health issues, but what I read indicated there’s no history of her ever harming her children. If I were one of her kids, I think I might just prefer a somewhat crazy mom to the loving embrace of the NYC bureaucracy.

sadarj on February 9, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Hueydriver on February 9, 2012 at 1:28 PM
The website also reports that Ogunbayo is representing herself in the case.

That poor lady needs mental health help, not her kids or the 900T she wants! I don’t know how this would ever get before a judge and jury?
L

letget on February 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM

…the agency investigated reports that she placed the children at risk by leaving them at home alone for several hours each day… her children, who were 9 and 12 at the time of their removal…

Aside from any questions of the mother’s fitness (and possibly the youngsters’ capabilities), what is wrong with this picture?

I was baby-sitting other people’s kids when I was 12, and had no problem with leaving my own kids home alone for short periods of time at those ages.

My grandfather took a herd of cattle to market by himself at 12.

AesopFan on February 9, 2012 at 1:57 PM

That poor lady needs mental health help, not her kids or the 900T she wants!

letget on February 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Agreed. The judge should say she wins and hand her a map to a suitcase with $900 Trillion…which just happens to be inside a padded cell of a nut farm.

MelonCollie on February 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Hey boys, help Mayor Bloomberg find his checkbook.

NoDonkey on February 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Only $900 trillion? Chump change to a dem politician….

dentarthurdent on February 9, 2012 at 3:36 PM

The moral of the story : Motherhood have no price.

Sams88 on February 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Aside from any questions of the mother’s fitness (and possibly the youngsters’ capabilities), what is wrong with this picture?

I was baby-sitting other people’s kids when I was 12, and had no problem with leaving my own kids home alone for short periods of time at those ages.

My grandfather took a herd of cattle to market by himself at 12.

AesopFan on February 9, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I was a latchkey but I knew my mother was at work, when she was coming home, how to get in touch with her, and their were neighbors available in an emergency.

If she was just disappearing where abouts unknown, no food if the kids were hungry, no neighbors they could go to, etc., the court was right in removing them and sorting it out.

Blake on February 9, 2012 at 5:49 PM

their skin was becoming darker due to radiation exposure.

When I was a kid, we called that a “sun tan”.

malclave on February 9, 2012 at 6:16 PM

If she won and paid tax, the national debt will be totally paid off the next day.

galtani on February 9, 2012 at 6:23 PM

letget on February 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Um, yeah. That is what makes my comment funny. Read it again.

While I feel for the lady and her problems (really), not every story posted here is worth the normal “outrageous outrage” it seems everyone is compelled to feel. If it were a crazy bald guy with a cat, demanding 100 billion dollars in the 1960′s, it would be funny. Guess I’ll stick to my day job!

Hueydriver on February 9, 2012 at 9:28 PM

My grandfather took a herd of cattle to market by himself at 12.

AesopFan on February 9, 2012 at 1:57 PM

My mother grew up on a farm in the 1940′s. Everyone had responsibilities. Her “job” on the farm blows me away to this day. She drove the farm truck to market everyday to make deliveries….at the age of 9.

HotAirian on February 9, 2012 at 9:40 PM

HotAirian on February 9, 2012 at 9:40 PM

I have some older friends who didn’t get indoor plumbing until the early 90′s. They lived the pioneer life long after the West was won, planting and canning their own food, slaughtering their own hogs and cattle, herding sheep. None of the kids were exempt from any of these activities. Absolutely amazing people.

Nom de Boom on February 9, 2012 at 9:50 PM

How did she decide on that particular sum.

I guess she figured asking for a quadrillion dollars would sound crazy, so she settled for the next-best thing.

Y’know; she didn’t want to seem greedy or anything.

logis on February 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM

I was a latchkey but I knew my mother was at work, when she was coming home, how to get in touch with her, and their were neighbors available in an emergency.

If she was just disappearing where abouts unknown, no food if the kids were hungry, no neighbors they could go to, etc., the court was right in removing them and sorting it out.

Blake on February 9, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Good point. Training kids to be responsible is not the same as forcing them to learn because they are neglected.

AesopFan on February 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM

My mother grew up on a farm in the 1940′s. Everyone had responsibilities. Her “job” on the farm blows me away to this day. She drove the farm truck to market everyday to make deliveries….at the age of 9.

HotAirian on February 9, 2012 at 9:40 PM

I have some older friends who didn’t get indoor plumbing until the early 90′s. They lived the pioneer life long after the West was won, planting and canning their own food, slaughtering their own hogs and cattle, herding sheep. None of the kids were exempt from any of these activities. Absolutely amazing people.

Nom de Boom on February 9, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Anyone here read the ranch news? 

Richard Thorpe worries the pathway he took to the rural ranching life he enjoys today may be blocked for kids who grow up in town.
Thorpe, owner of the Mesa TY Ranch east of Winters, strongly opposes a proposed new U.S. Labor Department rule that would bar young teenagers from working on farms and ranches where they’re not related to the owner-operator.
Last week the U.S. Department of Labor softened its proposed rule change by broadening the so-called family exemption to rules applying to younger teens working in agriculture.
That was not enough, however, to silence a chorus of critics in the agriculture sector who want the proposal scrapped entirely.
Under current rules, Thorpe said, “kids not fortunate enough to grow up on a farm or ranch gain valuable experience working on one.”
If the new proposed rules had been in effect when he was a boy, Thorpe said, he might never have acquired a yen for ranching and the rural lifestyle.

AesopFan on February 10, 2012 at 12:27 PM

And then there’s this wrinkle.

Whenever I write about these situations, social workers will insist that most of them are hard-working and dedicated to helping children. Fair enough. Then they have nothing to fear by having their decisions scrutinized in the same open manner that other court decisions are scrutinized. As in any agency, some social workers abuse their authority, which reminds us of the need for accountability and oversight.

Last April, as the Orange County Register reported, “The County of Orange lost its battle in the U.S. Supreme Court … to overturn a record-setting $4.9 million judgment awarded to a Seal Beach woman, after two county social workers lied to a juvenile court commissioner in order to take away the woman’s two daughters.” This was a troubling case, yet the county circled its wagons.

I have written about other cases where social workers were accused of lying or misbehavior and it was impossible to get to the heart of the matter because everything is secret. We’ll never improve these systems until the light of day shines on every courtroom.

Steven Greenhut is vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

(emphases added)

AesopFan on February 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Shouldn’t she sue them instead for lack of math awareness. She sounds like one of those Price is Right contestants who bids eighty five thousand on the showcase filled with patio furniture.

Smedley on February 10, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Why not round up to 1 quadrillion.

Wigglesworth on February 10, 2012 at 8:36 PM

NYC mom sues city for $900 trillion for taking custody of her children

Sigh. Might as well open the checkbook now. This is NYC, which is striving to out-Moonbat California, Vermont & Massachusetts.

Between the unions, the radicals and Bloomberg, it’s making great strides to reach that goal.

BlaxPac on February 10, 2012 at 11:18 PM

Motion to dismiss granted.

slp on February 11, 2012 at 2:13 PM