February 18, 2020, PNLR News
Improper investigation of child abuse
Suit on behalf of a two-year-old girl whose mother was reported to be mentally ill and neglecting her alleged that a California county was liable for its social workers’ failure to adequately investigate. The plaintiff claimed the social workers should have called law enforcement to enter the home, gain access to the child, and possibly remove her from her mother’s custody. The parties mediated a settlement for approximately $1.37 million. Doe v. Cty. of Riverside.
Doe, 2, lived with her mother, who had a history of mental health problems for which she took medication. Her mother later became pregnant and ceased taking the medication. Doe’s relatives, including her aunts and grandmother, contacted the County of Riverside Department of Public Social Services Children’s Services Division to report that Doe’s mother had severe mental illness and was possibly neglecting Doe. County social workers came to Doe’s home several times; however, Doe’s mother would not allow them into the apartment.
Subsequently, police entered the apartment, where they found Doe hugging a deceased decomposed infant. Authorities removed Doe from the home, and she was adopted by a relative.
Doe, through a guardian, sued the county, alleging liability for its social workers’ failure to adequately investigate child abuse. The plaintiff claimed that the social workers had breached their duties under California regulations, including the requirement that they make contact with Doe during the investigations. The plaintiff asserted that the social workers should have called law enforcement to gain access to her and should have attempted to obtain a warrant to enter the home and possibly remove her from her mother’s custody.
The parties mediated a settlement of approximately $1.37 million.
Citation: Doe v. Cty. of Riverside, No. RIC1804569 (Cal. Super. Ct. Riverside Cty. Aug. 23, 2019).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Roger Booth and Carly Sanchez, both of Torrance, Calif.