Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Case Law Development: No Immunity for Social Workers in Child Protection Cases if Fail to Meet Court Ordered Standards for Investigations
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's finding that official immunity required a grant summary judgment for a Missouri social worker and her supervisor in a case arising from the death of plaintiffs' child in a foster home. The court found that, while ordinarily social workers have broad discretion in how to investigate child abuse cases, the discretion of the workers in this case was constrained because the Missouri child protection agency was operating under a consent decree requiring, among other steps, home visits by social workers. Since there was a factual dispute as to whether required visits were performed by defendant-social worker and since the failure to perform those visits would remove the protection of immunity, summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.
Porter v. Williams, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 2818 (February 6, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited February 7, 2006 bgf)
To read news reports on the decision, see the Kansas City Star report.