LOS ANGELES — Because she faces criminal charges of bilking a disabled neighbor out of about $21,000, a former foster mother from Garden Grove has dropped her $10 million civil lawsuit against Orange County social services officials.
Cynthia Chinchilla filed suit against the Orange County Social Services Agency in July, seeking the return of the foster children who were removed from her home after county officials learned that Chinchilla's mother had died from acquired immune deficiency syndrome. "We did not in any way want to inhibit her criminal defense by having a civil suit (against the county) in federal court," Marjorie Rushforth, Chinchilla's civil attorney, said Monday. "That action needs to go forward on its own merit."
Rushforth, who was working on the the case with the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Southern California, said she learned late last week that U.S. District Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez accepted her motion to dismiss Chinchilla's federal action. However, Fernandez ruled that either side may reinstate the case.
"We are very pleased the case was dismissed," said Robert Griffiths, chief deputy director of the Orange County Social Services Agency.