Fathers Plan To Sue DCF In Fatal Fire

Posted By The Miami Herald | 7-Apr-2004

Two men whose daughters died in a Hialeah house fire said Tuesday they plan to sue the Department of Children & Families for failing to remove the girls from the home, according to their attorney.

The girls’ mother, Marie Auguste, 43, is the prime suspect in the intentionally set fire that killed the girls and two of her other children, according to Hialeah police. Auguste, severely burned in the fire, died nearly six weeks later.

“DCF should have known the mother had serious problems and was unfit to care for the children,” said Stephen Malove, the Fort Lauderdale attorney representing the fathers.
Roger Jean Joseph said he is the father of Rose, 6, who died in the blaze. Yves St. Fort’s daughter Kyla perished in the flames, trapped by an iron gate.

Of the five children in the house, only a 13-year-old brother survived the Feb 15 fire. He now lives with St. Fort.

The fathers also want to hold responsible whoever installed the illegal burglar bars that trapped the children in the inferno and kept firefighters at bay – and the public officials who did not force Auguste to remove the bars.
At a press conference Tuesday, Malove said the focus has been on the mother as the culprit in the fire.

“We just want to set the record straight and say that there were other parties that played a role in this tragedy,” Malove said. “DCF dropped the ball and… the parties who installed or allowed the security bars to remain are also accountable.”

Stephen Malove, representing the father of two of Auguste’s children, said this week that he plans to file wrongful-death lawsuits against the Florida Department of Children & Families. The agency took the children from Auguste and then returned them last year.

Malove also said he plans to sue those responsible for installing the burglar bars, which do not meet code requirement, and the public officials who did not force Auguste to remove those bars.
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