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Young v. Cabinet for Health & Family Services

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

September 27, 2013

BRIGID YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
CABINET FOR HEALTH & FAMILY SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior Judge.

This case is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants, Cabinet for Health & Family Services, Department of Community Based Services ("the Cabinet"), Michael Cheek, Brenda Clark, Glenda Newton-White, Erin McGohon, Deneka Stone, and Amanda Nichols (collectively "Defendants"), against the plaintiff, Brigid Young ("Plaintiff") (DN 21-1). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment in part.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed. On August 7, 2008, Plaintiff's daughter Brittany Young ("Young") reported to the police that Plaintiff had physically assaulted her. On August 8, Officer Mary Imber of the Louisville Metro Police Department interviewed Plaintiff and Young and prepared a police report summarizing their respective versions of the events. Pursuant to KY. REV. STAT. 403.785(1), Officer Imber forwarded her report to the Cabinet for further investigation. Upon receipt of the report, the Cabinet assigned social service worker Glenda Newton-White ("White") to investigate the case.

On August 11, White jointly interviewed Plaintiff and Young regarding the incident on August 7. During the interview, White observed bruising on Young's upper arms that was consistent with her allegations of abuse. (White Aff., DN 23-1, at 2). According to White, Plaintiff appeared "extremely agitated" throughout the interview and repeatedly threatened to strike Young if she did not recant her allegations of abuse. (White Aff. at 2). Based on these observations, White concluded that Young was afraid to remain at home with Plaintiff. (White Aff. at 2). Later that day, Young was removed from Plaintiff's custody and temporarily placed in a shelter home.

On August 19, the Cabinet convened a "facilitated staffing" meeting for the purpose of deciding who should be Young's permanent custodian. The staffing was attended by Plaintiff, Plaintiff's attorney, and Plaintiff's sister Mary Bishop ("Bishop"), all of whom agreed that Young should be evaluated by a therapist whose recommendation regarding Young's custodial placement would be binding. On August 20, Young met with Dr. Jill Monique ("Monique") of Seven Counties Acute Services, Inc. After their meeting, Monique recommended that Young should be placed with Bishop rather than return home to Plaintiff. Thus, on August 28, 2008, the Jefferson County Family Court ordered that Young be indefinitely placed in Bishop's custody in accordance with the parties' agreement.

Young stayed with Bishop until October 22, 2009, when Bishop moved to relinquish custody due to behavioral issues. Because none of Young's other relatives were willing to assume custody, the court entered an "Emergency Custody Order" temporarily awarding custody to the Cabinet. Young remained in the Cabinet's custody until March 1, 2010, when she was released to live with a friend.

Although Plaintiff never directly asserted her right to custody under KY. REV. STAT. 620.110, she timely appealed the Cabinet's determination of abuse and neglect pursuant to 922 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 1:480. On August 25, 2010, the Cabinet reversed its initial determination of abuse and neglect, finding that there was an inadequate basis to substantiate Young's allegations of abuse. Nevertheless, the Cabinet's ruling did not affect Plaintiff's right to custody because Young had already been emancipated by the time the decision was issued.

While Plaintiff was awaiting the outcome of her appeal, she consulted several attorneys about how to proceed in pursuing a claim against the Defendants. According to Plaintiff, these attorneys advised her to wait until the final resolution of her appeal before taking any action against the Defendants because "the decision on appeal was required in order to prove CHFS's negligence." (Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., DN 30-1, at 2). In accordance with this advice, Plaintiff did not file a claim against the Defendants until after the appeals process was complete. However, on May 25, 2010, Plaintiff gave the Defendants notice of her intent to pursue legal action by mailing a "Pro Se Letter of Intent to Sue" to Kentucky's Attorney General Jack Conway and the individually-named Defendants.

On May 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed the present action in Jefferson County Circuit Court. In addition to asserting violations of her Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedural and substantive due process, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges the following state-law claims against the Defendants:

1. Negligent investigation
2. Negligent hiring
3. Intentional infliction of ...

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