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Failure to Report Suspected Child Abuse May Preclude Statutory Immunity for Public Employees

In the case of T.B. v. Summit Cty. Children Servs. Bd., 2019-Ohio-3346, an Ohio appellate court held that a children services agency was entitled to statutory immunity but the immunity of the public employees could not be determined prior to trial with respect to the sexual abuse of two children placed by the agency.

In this case, two foster children were sexually abused by their caregiver. The children’s parents brought legal action against the children services agency that placed the children, as well as the public employees in charge of supervising the children. The agency and employees sought to dismiss the action arguing that they were entitled to statutory immunity under R.C. Chapter 2744.

With respect to the children services agency, the Ohio appellate court found that the children services agency was a political subdivision entitled to statutory immunity and the failure to properly investigate a claim of child abuse does not fall under any of the exceptions to immunity.

With respect to the employees of the children services agency, the Ohio appellate court found that a question of fact existed as to whether the employees knew of the abuse and failed to do anything about it. If the public employees knew of the abuse, then the employees would have disregarded a known or obvious risk of harm, which is an exception to their immunity under R.C. 2744.03(A)(6)(b). In this case, the appellate court determined that the issue of whether the public employees knew of the abuse is a question of fact that can only be answered through a trial.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing like the Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

 

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