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Court Investigates Allegations of Child Abuse

Plaintiffs are the surviving children of the late deceased, whose live-in boyfriend killed her and her daughter, in 1993. At the time of the murders, defendant was investigating plaintiffs’ home. A New York Family Lawyer said that, the Family Court had ordered the investigation after the children’s paternal grandmother alleged in a petition for visitation rights that the said live-in boyfriend of the deceased was “on drugs” and that the deceased was not caring for oldest child properly.” A Bronx Order of Protection Lawyer said that, plaintiffs allege, inter alia, that the proximate cause of their mother’s and sister’s deaths, and the attendant injury to themselves, was defendants’ negligence in conducting the investigation. The Bronx Child Custody Lawyer said that, the defendant’s filed a motion for summary judgment dismissing the compliant on the ground that it is not liable to the plaintiff’s as it has the immunity afforded by Social Services Law § 419 to those investigating allegations of child abuse. The court denied defendant’s motion.

The issue in this case is whether defendant should be held liable for the plaintiffs’ mother’s and sister’s deaths, and the attendant injury to themselves, due to defendant’s negligence in conducting the investigation in the plaintiff’s home.

A New York Custody Lawyer said the Court held that, since the CWA caseworker who investigated the family was engaged in discretionary action, defendants may not be held liable for any negligence on her part. The record presents no issues of fact whether the caseworker was actually conducting her investigation or exercising her discretion when the murders occurred.
The Court said that, in any event, the record demonstrates no special relationship between the parties or special duty owed by defendants to plaintiffs. There is no evidence that defendants voluntarily undertook any obligation beyond those already required of them by law, or that the caseworker was “clearly on notice of palpable danger”. Nor is there any evidence that plaintiffs relied on defendants to protect them and that their reliance induced them to forgo other possibilities of relief.

In the absence of evidence suggesting that the caseworker engaged in “willful misconduct or gross negligence,” defendants are also entitled to the immunity afforded by Social Services Law § 419 to those investigating allegations of child abuse. A Queens Family Lawyer said the evidence permits no inference that the case worker acted in bad faith, “failed to exercise even slight care, or exhibited a complete disregard for the rights and safety of others”. In addition to the absence of evidence as to a special duty, there also is no evidence to support the inference that any act or omission on the part of defendant Board of Education proximately caused the injury to plaintiffs.

In view of the foregoing, a Queens Custody Lawyer said the Court does not reach defendants’ remaining arguments. Accordingly, the Court held that the order of the Supreme Court, Bronx County, entered on or about December 9, 2009, which, to the extent appealed from as limited by the briefs, denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, unanimously reversed, on the law, without costs, and the motion granted. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in defendants’ favor dismissing the complaint.

A government caseworker who investigated the family was engaged in discretionary action, it may not be held liable for any negligence on its part. In the absence of evidence suggesting that the caseworker engaged in “willful misconduct or gross negligence,” they are also entitled to the immunity afforded by Social Services Law § 419 to those investigating allegations of child abuse. If you know of a child being subjected to abuse and any forms of harm, seek the help of a Bronx Order of Protection Attorney and/or Bronx Child Custody Attorney in order to advice you the proper legal step to divest the child’s custody from its abusive parents. Instead of blaming a government caseworker who’s performing a discretionary duty, ask for the assistance of a Bronx Family Attorney. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates we can guarantee the protection of the child by filing the appropriate pleadings to divest its custody from its abusive parents, and place the child under a protection order. Call us for free legal advice.

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