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Beggs v. State, Department of Social & Health Services

171 Wash. 2d 69, 247 P.3d 421 (2011)

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Beggs v. State, Department of Social & Health Services

Washington Supreme Court

171 Wash. 2d 69, 247 P.3d 421 (2011)

Facts

Tyler DeLeon, a seven-year-old child, died of dehydration and starvation. Carole DeLeon had adopted Tyler and his siblings from foster care through the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) (defendant). DSHS paid Carole a monthly stipend for each adopted child. During Tyler’s time with Carole, there were 23 reports to child protective services (CPS) about suspected physical and sexual abuse in the home. While under Carole’s care, Tyler dropped to the fifth weight percentile for his age; Tyler weighed only 28 pounds at the time his death. Prior to Tyler’s death, he was treated by Dr. David Fregeau (defendant) at the Rockwood Clinic (defendant). After Tyler’s death, DSHS removed Tyler’s siblings from Carole’s home. Breean Beggs (plaintiff), as the personal representative of Tyler’s estate and the guardian ad litem for Tyler’s siblings, sued DSHS, Fregeau, and Rockwood for failure to report child abuse. DSHS, Fregeau, and Rockwood moved for summary judgment, arguing (1) Washington’s mandatory reporting statute did not imply a civil remedy, only a criminal penalty; and (2) physicians could only be sued under Washington’s medical-malpractice statute, not the mandatory reporting statute. The trial court granted summary judgment. Beggs appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sanders, J.)

Dissent (Alexander, J.)

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