One of my friend's parents, we'll call him Jamal, were separated early on. While both of his parents fought vigorously for custody of him and his brother Rodney, the court chose to grant his mother primary custody, awarding his father the right to have them every other weekend. The problem was that his mother was absolutely awful. At home, he was frequently beaten and berated often, both by his mother, and his step-father. On more than one occasion Jamal's father took he and his brother to the police station to show them the bruises caused by their mother/step-father, but every time the police said there was nothing they could do. At his mother's house, the cabinets were often bare and they would frequently go hungry. The children were constant targets of their mother's drunken tirades, and years later Jamal realized that the small glass pipe he found in his mother's drawer was a meth pipe. Their mother only ever worked once for a very brief time in a bar she used to frequent; otherwise, she lived a parasitic lifestyle living off the system, other men, and finally an old dying man that helped her out.
When at his father's house, Jamal and his siblings had a strict daily regimen. Jamal's father was a hardworking man who owned his own business, and commanded respect. Jamal and his brother fully respected their dad, because they saw how hard he worked to take care of them. Also at his dad's house, were Jamal's and Rodney's younger (half- though they would never make this distinction) siblings. Their dad expected his children to behave appropriately, and they did. Jamal and his brother respected and loved their dad, who never laid a finger on them. They would eat a home-cooked meal cooked by their (step-though again they don't make this distinction) mother. AT dinner, they would all sit around the table and catch up on missed time that their mother was robbing them of.
In court, Jamal begged the court to allow him to stay with his father. Social workers were sent to both homes to determine fitness, but their mother was told about the visit beforehand with ample opportunity to prepare, so she had the children clean the house and she bought groceries beforehand. Finally, when Jamal turned 15, he was allowed to make the decision to live with his father. Jamal no longer speaks to his mother after she falsely accused him of hitting her. And, she did the exact same thing to her other son, Jamal's (half) brother.
To me, the court was negligent in assuming the fitness of the mother over the fitness of the father. The court conducted no investigation into the fitness of the mother, despite the mother having an extensive criminal record, which saw her ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, on more than one occasion. Conversely, their father had no criminal record, a means to support the children, and never harmed any of the children. To me the court, the social worker, and anyone else involved in the situation was negligent. And the result of that negligence caused a young boy to have to endure more than a decade of physical and emotional abuse, and neglect.
The question is Can Jamal sue for the pain and suffering he had to endure all those years? Now, I am aware that judges cannot be sued due to immunity. But, can the California courts be sued as an entity? I imagine judges made sure they closed any loophole that would possibly hold them accountable, which I am sure is intentional, so I doubt this is possible, but I can't find anything regarding this situation online. What about Child Protective Services where they lived? Is there anyone who could be held responsible for such a gross oversight? Thank you.
*** Quick note: Jamal is now 33, so I am certain he is past the statute of limitations. He turned out fine despite everything. This question is more of a hypothetical for others who may have been in similar situations.