The siblings of a 4-year-old Palmdale boy whose 2019 death was originally reported as a drowning -–- but later led to a criminal indictment of his parents -–- are not entitled to an expedited trial of their wrongful death suit against Los Angeles County by virtue of the ages of the minor plaintiffs, defense attorneys told a judge Wednesday, but lawyers for the children countered that their clients deserve an accelerated trial date in early 2023.
Pomona Superior Court Judge Peter A. Hernandez did not immediately rule, saying he was taking under submission a motion for an early trial date brought on behalf of the siblings of the late Noah Cuatro. He did not say when he would have a final decision.
Noah’s great-grandmother, Evangelina Hernandez, brought the case in July 2020 on behalf of herself and the boy’s minor siblings, a sister and two brothers. But in their court papers, lawyers for the county state that the question of whether the minor plaintiffs have the right to bring the suit is unresolved.
“Thus, importantly, plaintiffs will have standing … only if both their parents, also the surviving parents of the deceased sibling, are determined to have acted intentionally and feloniously and are thus divested of their intestate rights,” the county lawyers maintain in their court papers.
The county also has not yet received all documents in its petitions for the records of the minor plaintiffs, hampering the ability to mount a full defense, according to the county attorneys’ court papers.
The expedited trial motion should be denied or delayed until the plaintiffs’ lawyers establish that Noah’s siblings have standing to pursue their wrongful death and survival claims, the county lawyers further argue in their court papers.
As time passes, it will be difficult for the young siblings to recall events, the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ court papers additionally state.
Noah’s parents, Jose Maria Cuatro Jr. and Ursula Elaine Juarez, were ages 28 and 26, respectively, when the lawsuit was filed and are still awaiting trial in their criminal case. They were indicted in January 2020 on one count each of murder and torture in their son’s death.