Mom to get $800,000 in 1997 death of son:
State, Mono County agree to pay

By Cynthia Hubert Bee Staff Writer
Published Oct. 7, 1999
The Sacramento Bee

Mono County and the state of California have agreed to pay more than $800,000 to a woman who claimed government agencies were responsible for her son's death after they removed him from her care more than two years ago.

Trevor Nolan, who was 5 years old and suffered from a rare blood disease, died at a Reno hospital in April 1997, less than three weeks after the county's Child Protective Services removed the boy from his mother's custody.

CPS turned Trevor and his brother Wade, then 6, over to their father and later to foster parents as they investigated allegations that she deliberately kept the younger boy sick. Trevor, who suffered from an illness called glycogen storage disease that required him to be fed from a tube from infancy, died as his mother was driving to visit him.

No charges of abuse or neglect ever were substantiated against the mother, Dale Nolan-Dissell.

Nolan-Dissell sued in federal court in Sacramento, charging the wrongful death of Trevor and wrongful removal of the two boys. She charged that CPS, the foster parents and her former husband were negligent in the boy's care after he was taken from his mother.

Without admitting liability, Mono County and its CPS employees recently agreed to settle the case for $700,000, according to public documents. The foster parents, through the state, agreed to a settlement of $125,000, and the child's father, Ed Nolan, from whom the mother is divorced, agreed to pay an undisclosed amount. The settlements are to be paid by the parties' insurance companies, said William Baber, Nolan-Dissell's lawyer.

Justin Tierney Jr., who represented Mono County in the case, said the government decided to settle to protect the agency from a potentially larger jury verdict in the future. The case was scheduled to go to trial in April 2000.

"The facts are that the boy was removed, he had a rare disorder and he died within three weeks of removal," Tierney said. "A jury would have a difficult time seeing beyond that, despite the fact that we believe the county acted properly."

Ed Nolan declined to comment Wednesday on the settlement. A representative for the state in the case could not be reached.

Nolan-Dissell, who lives in Arizona, said she intends to fight for full custody of her older son. Wade Nolan, now 9, has been living with his father in Bridgeport, she said, and she has seen him under supervision once a month.

"They can't bring Trevor back to me, but I want Wade back," Nolan-Dissell said Wednesday in an interview from her home in Phoenix. "I'm not bitter. I just want the rest of the error corrected."

Go To: Dale Cindy & Trevor's Story

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