Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, June 01, 2023

 Some years back a judge called us and asked us if we would take over the representation of two women who had been horribly sexually abused while in foster care. They had a lawyer, but the judge thought he was was out of his depth. We took it, of course. Tilting at windmills was sort of a specialty of ours. The women were sad, damaged individuals and one of the things that stands out for me about the experience is that we spent the day of 9/11 driving around Buffalo looking for them. They were more or less homeless, and the trial of their case was coming up. In fact, there was a motion by the County for summary judgment pending (or maybe it had just been decided in our favor? I can't recall). In any event, the County moved to re-argue and won- the duty a municipality has towards foster children is shockingly slight. I can't recall how we managed to pull out the win in the first place, actually. We were on the case because we had a reputation for creativity but whatever creative argument it was that we made wasn't enough for the judge that asked us for the favor. 

Today I got a call from a lawyer who has been consulted by the women who want to know if the Adult Victims of Sexual Abuse statute applied to them, and it dredged up a deep feeling of remorse. For the most part I am very aware of the limits of the tort system, and if I am being realistic I know that even if we'd prevailed there was nothing that could have made these women whole. We lawyered the hell out of it, and here they still are. We couldn't help them, and the fact that we tried our damnedest and still couldn't fills me with grief

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