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Department of Children & Families Div. of Child Prot. & Permanency v. E.D.-O.

121 A.3d 832 (2015)

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Department of Children & Families Div. of Child Prot. & Permanency v. E.D.-O.

New Jersey Supreme Court

121 A.3d 832 (2015)

Facts

E.D.-O. (defendant) left her 19-month-old child S.O. asleep in her car seat while E.D.-O. went into a store. E.D.-O. parked 150 feet away from the store, where she could see the car from inside; cracked both front windows; left the car running; and locked the car’s doors. It was about 55 degrees outside, and E.D.-O. was in the store for approximately 10 minutes. A security guard noticed the car running, saw the child, and called police. The Department of Children and Families, Division of Child Protection and Permanency (plaintiff) sent a caseworker to E.D.-O.’s home. E.D.-O. cried during her interview, said she had never left S.O. or any of her other children unattended in a car, and her husband said the same thing. The caseworker noted the house was clean, with appropriate bedrooms and food for the family, and S.O. had appropriate clothes and appeared well-nurtured. The caseworker nonetheless substantiated the neglect charges, and the division filed a petitioner seeking care and supervision of E.D.-O.’s four children. E.D.-O. appealed, but the division summarily affirmed the finding of neglect and denied E.D.-O.’s request for a hearing. The appellate court also affirmed, and E.D.-O. appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cuff, J.)

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