Brief Fact Summary. After a child, Anthony Young (Young), had been placed under the guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), was killed, his aunt, Elnora Camp, (Plaintiff) brought suit, contending the child was denied substantive due process, when the DCFS failed to place him in a safe environment.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A state may be held liable for the deprivation of a child’s rights, but state officials may not be held liable when they are acting in their capacity.
The only right in question in this case is the right of a child in state custody not to be handed over by state officers to a foster parent or other custodian, private or public, whom the state knows or suspects to be a child abuser.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the state and its social worker had a duty to protect their charge when they assumed guardianship of a child?
* The Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court, however, its grounds were different. The Seventh Circuit found there was a positive duty to protect Young, which had been breached. However, the court also found that Gregory was acting as a state official and was due qualified immunity for his actions.
Discussion. The important consideration arising from this case is that a state may be held liable for the deprivation of a child’s rights, but state officials may not be held liable when they are acting in their capacity.