by Brittany Lewis, Melissa Mahadeo

The Indiana Department of Child Services has been ordered to pay $31 million to a family accused of abuse in the death of their daughter.

In 2005, Jessica Salyer, 14, died from prescription errors. A year and a half later, her parents Roman and Lynnette Finnegan, were arrested on neglect charges — accused of beating Salyer to death.

Investigators said there were signs of blunt force trauma to Salyer’s head and multiple signs of internal bleeding. However, experts testified that the internal bleeding was caused by Salyer’s heart medication and that the trauma to the head was a result of an autopsy.

The Pulaski County prosecutor dropped the charges in November 2007, and a judge dismissed the case with prejudice.

However, DCS would not clear the allegations from the family’s file. Over the span of 10 years, attorneys for the Finnegan’s said DCS made their life “a living hell.” Two of their children were placed in foster care for nine months. They also exhumed Jessica’s body after she had been buried.

After the arrest and accusations, Roman Finnegan lost his job. The family also lost their home and possessions.

The State of Indiana is appealing the decision.

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