A young Brooklyn couple bathing their 11-month-old daughter soon found themselves in a bit of legal hot water. As they started to bathe her, they noticed a bump on her head. Concerned for her well-being, they immediately took her to the local emergency room. What they had not noticed was that while running the bath, some hot water had burned the baby’s foot. However, the emergency personnel noticed.
Even though doctors had observed the parents—and two grandparents who were also present—and decided there was nothing suspicious about their behavior, standard practice dictates that the New York City Administration for Children Services must be contacted.
ACS decided something was amiss and pursued the matter. A restraining order was issued and the parents were not allowed to be alone with their child. In addition, the working couple, who had another young child at home, was forced to attend court-mandated parenting classes.
Concerned about ACS’s disproportionate response and the accompanying stigma, the couple sought help from the Brooklyn Family Defense Project (BFDP), which protects the due process rights of low-income families and helps access the benefits and services families need to remain safe and stable. BFDP referred the case to Kaye Scholer.
Fourth-year Kaye Scholer Litigation Associate Jennifer Taiwo volunteered to handle the case, working under the supervision of Litigation Counsel Stacey Lara. In August, Jennifer drafted and submitted a summary judgment motion and started to prepare for a hearing in New York City’s byzantine Family Court system.
Fortunately, ACS declined to file a response to our motion and on October 18, 2012, the judge dismissed the matter. It was a minor legal victory; for a family reunited with their children whose lives finally could return to normal, it was a major achievement.
Also of Interest
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