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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Child Abduction Case Revived in Connecticut

(CN) - The mother of a 2-year-old girl whose father abducted her and fled to Turkey can sue the woman who was supervising the father-daughter visit at a shopping mall, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled.

Leyla Mirjavadi filed for divorce from Orang Fabriz after the Iranian couple came to the United States with their daughter Saba in 1995 to visit relatives. Mirjavadi was granted political asylum.

Fabriz was granted supervised visitation with Saba, and Mirjavadi hired Maria Varone to supervise the visits.

During a visit at the Stamford Town Center mall, Varone went to a restaurant with Fabriz, the child and Anthony Vakilzadeh, the uncle of both of the girl's parents, who are first cousins that were joined in an arranged marriage.

Fabriz took the child to a bookstore across from the restaurant, but then spirited her away, getting into a waiting limousine that took them to JFK Airport from which they then flew off to Istanbul, Turkey. Mirjavadi hasn't seen her daughter since that day in 1996.

Vakilzadeh rented the limousine and purchased the airline tickets.

Mirjavadi sued Varone for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

In 2011, the trial court ruled in Varone's favor, ruling that her conduct was "overwhelmed by the superseding international (and criminal) conduct" of Fabriz and Vakilzadeh.

However, the Connecticut Appellate Court overturned the decision, agreeing with Mirjavadi that the trial court had made erroneous findings of fact and flawed analysis of the foreseeability of the kidnapping.

The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the appeals court decision, stating the "heart of the issue" is whether Varone was hired to prevent such an abduction.

It noted that Varone had successfully thwarted an abduction in another case "by throwing herself on the hood of a moving vehicle driven by the would-be kidnapper."

"Significantly, the trial court did not state that preventing an abduction was no longer a purpose of the supervised visitations," Justice Peter Zarella wrote for the court. "We also agree with the Appellate Court that the trial court's failure to consider whether preventing an abduction continued to be a purpose of the supervised visitations on Oct. 5, 1996, and its failure to consider the defendant's duty in light of the presence or absence of that purpose, rendered its analysis of the foreseeability of the abduction and its judgment in favor of the defendant fatally flawed."

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