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Suit Over Girl’s Death Settled

September 30, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ A woman whose daughter was illegally adopted by Joel Steinberg and later beaten to death by him accepted $985,000 Thursday to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit she filed against several city agencies.

The woman, Michele Launders, refused to comment on the settlement. But her lawyer, Joseph Famighetti, said: ``It gives her closure and allows her to get on with her life.″

Ms. Launders, who was unwed when her daughter was born in 1981, charged that Steinberg, a lawyer, defrauded her when he accepted $500 to place the infant with an adoptive family. Instead of putting the baby up for adoption, Steinberg took her home to his companion, Hedda Nussbaum, named the child Lisa, and killed her six years later by hitting her on the head.

Ms. Nussbaum testified that they used cocaine while the girl lay dying on the bathroom floor.

In 1988, Ms. Launders sued Steinberg, Ms. Nussbaum, the Police Department and other city agencies. She charged that the agencies knew Lisa was being abused and did nothing to protect her.

In settling the case, the city admitted no wrongdoing.

Ms. Nussbaum, 57, will donate $500 to a children’s charity to settle the case against her.

Steinberg is serving up to 25 years for manslaughter.

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