Lindsay v. Department of Social Services

439 Mass. 789, 791 N.E.2d 866 (2003)

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Lindsay v. Department of Social Services

Massachusetts Supreme Court
439 Mass. 789, 791 N.E.2d 866 (2003)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Adele Lindsay (defendant) operated a daycare center. Each morning, Lindsay transported up to seven children to and from the center in her station wagon. Lindsay normally parked the vehicle in front of the daycare between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m., sounded the horn, and waited in her car until an aide came out to take the children in. On two occasions, three- or four-year-old Adrianna was left unattended in the vehicle. On the first occasion in June, Lindsay sounded the horn, an aide came out, and Lindsay went inside. The aide failed to notice Adrianna buckled in the rear, and Adrianna was left in the car until around 10:30 a.m., when one teacher was outside and happened to hear Adrianna crying. Adrianna was soaked from sweat but otherwise fine. On the second occasion about one month later, Lindsay parked the vehicle and went into the center without sounding the horn. The child in the front seat exited the car on her own, while Adrianna remained buckled in. As Lindsay was going in, an aide came out and asked if Lindsay had sounded the horn. Lindsay responded that she had not sounded the horn, which the aide understood to mean that there was no other child to retrieve. Adrianna was left in the car until sometime between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. when an employee happened to hear Adriana whimpering. Adriana was sweaty but otherwise unscathed. Based on these events, the department of social services (the department) (plaintiff) investigated Lindsay and supported allegations of neglect. A hearing officer found that neglect occurred as to the second incident. The superior court affirmed. Lindsay appealed, primarily arguing that the department could not investigate her for neglect because Adrianna had not suffered any physical or emotional injury.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sosman, J.)

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