Friday, June 30, 2006

Case Law Development: Social Workers entitled to qualified immunity in child removal case

The infant's physician informed a children services agency that the infant sustained a skull fracture, that the mother's explanation was possible, but suspicious, that the mother waited until the day after the injury to seek medical attention, and that the physician felt comfortable sending the infant home with the mother. After consulting with her supervisors and the assistant attorney general, the caseworker interviewed the parents. Concluding that there was a substantial danger to the infant's safety, the caseworker took the infant into protective custody. At a state court hearing, the parents agreed that the infant should be placed in the temporary custody of the agency, which subsequently returned the infant to her parents. In the § 1983 action, the court determined that the district court erred in concluding that the state court's finding that the removal was justified precluded plaintiffs from seeking damages for the alleged violation of due process. The court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because officers of reasonable competence could have disagreed as to whether there were emergency circumstances justifying the removal of the infant.

Gomes v. Wood, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 16104  (June 17, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited June 29, 2006 bgf)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2006/06/case_law_develo_33.html

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