Not so fast DHS -- you have to investigate first! | Speaker Law
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Not so fast DHS -- you have to investigate first!

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

The Court of Appeals reversed the termination of Respondent-Mother’s parental rights to her minor child in In the Matter of V. M. Inman, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued April 9, 2013 (Docket No. 313055). The 14-month old minor had suffered a “complete fracture of the tibia, as well as ‘a green stick fracture’ to his fibula.” However, because Respondent-Mother leaves her minor with her neighbors (Sean and Jessica) while she goes to work, she was unaware of the injuries until she took her child home and went to change his diaper. Upon learning of the injuries, DHS sought temporary jurisdiction of not only the injured child, but also Respondent-Mother’s three other children (who were not living with her at the time). DHS also sought immediate termination of her parental rights as to all of her children. The referee found jurisdiction, and terminated Respondent-Mother’s rights as to the injured minor, but not the other three children. Subsequently, the Trial Court adopted the referee’s findings and Respondent-Mother appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed, stating that it was left with a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake ha[d] been made.” Specifically, the Court of Appeals noted that the minor had been left alone with Sean for five hours while Respondent accompanied Jessica and Jessica’s minor to the hospital (as Jessica did not have a car), and immediately after the child’s injury Sean disappeared in an attempt to avoid contact with police (later to be arrested on warrants for unpaid child support and domestic violence), and yet, “inexplicably, DHS worker Kimberely Greer testified that neither Sean nor Jessica were ‘part of our specific investigation.’” In the words of the Court, “the rush to terminate was unnecessary, especially in light of the fact that DHS admitted it conducted what can only be described as an incomplete investigation.”

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