Hernandez ex rel Hernandez v. Foster

657 F.3d 463 (2011)

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Hernandez ex rel Hernandez v. Foster

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
657 F.3d 463 (2011)

Facts

Crystelle and Joshua Hernandez (parents) took their 15-month-old son, Jaymz (collectively the Hernandezes) (plaintiffs) to the hospital after Jaymz fell out of his crib. Crystelle stated that Jaymz could not walk or climb. Jaymz was diagnosed with a fracture. Nurse Lisa Luebke called the Department of Children and Family Services (department) due to the inconsistency between Jaymz being unable to walk or climb and his falling out of his crib, as well as bruises near his eye from a former injury. The department advised Dr. Natalie Kostinsky to release Jaymz to his parents. Department supervisor Pamela Foster-Stith (defendant) spoke to Luebke and Kostinsky, who stated that the parents provided conflicting reports regarding who was home at the time of the fall. Foster-Stith spoke to her manager, Mike Ruppe (defendant), then assigned investigator Lakesha Foster (defendant) to conduct a home visit. Foster observed Jaymz walking, playing, and interacting with his family and, after interviewing Crystelle, called Foster-Stith, saying, “everything looks fine; there’s nothing that seems suspicious.” Nonetheless, Ruppe and Foster-Stith determined that Jaymz should be taken into protective custody for 48 hours. Foster took Jaymz into custody. The next day, an orthopedist, an emergency-medicine physician, and a radiologist agreed that Jaymz’s body showed no signs of abuse, and the state informed Foster-Stith that it would not pursue the case due to insufficient evidence. However, the department did not return Jaymz to his parents because the 48-hour custody period had not yet lapsed. After 48 hours had lapsed, Jaymz was returned to his parents. Two months later, the investigation concluded with no findings of abuse or neglect. The Hernandezes brought a substantive-due-process claim against Ruppe, Foster-Stith, and Foster (collectively, the caseworkers) based on Jaymz’s removal and his continued withholding after probable cause dissipated. The caseworkers moved for summary judgment on the grounds of qualified immunity, which the court granted. The Hernandezes appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tinder, J.)

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