Posts tagged "Families"

Jones, et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-001-18)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS   SUFFOLK, ss                                                                                                                                    SUPERIOR COURT 1784CV00586                                                 THERESE JONES and MAXWELL JONES                          BY HIS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND, THERESE JONES                                                                                v.                                              MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF                                                        CHILDREN & FAMILIES                                           MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER                                         ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS       This case arises out of the decision of defendant Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) to take emergency custody of minor plaintiff Maxwell Jones (“Maxwell”).  This decision followed a statutorily mandated investigation in which DCF learned that plaintiff Therese Jones (“Ms. Jones”) had left her three-year old son sleeping alone in a Marriott hotel room while she drank with friends at the hotel bar.  Plaintiffs’ Complaint concedes that Ms. Jones left the infant Maxwell alone in her hotel room when she “ran into a few work friends and had a few drinks,” but insists that she “checked in on her son every ten to fifteen minutes.”   Plaintiffs have brought negligence claims against DCF, asserted under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, G.L. c. 258 (the “MTCA”).  Plaintiffs contend that Ms. Jones “ha[d] never been arrested, had no criminal record, and had no previous contact or investigation with DCF,” facts that DCF purportedly “failed to investigate.”  In these circumstances, plaintiffs charge, the decision to take Maxwell into emergency custody and remove him from the care of his mother was “wrongful.” DCF has now moved to dismiss the Complaint, both for failure to state a claim pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1).  DCF maintains that the Complaint sets forth no facts plausibly suggesting negligence on the part of DCF.  DCF alternatively argues that even otherwise viable negligence claims of the type asserted by the plaintiffs in this case must be dismissed, because they fall within the MTCA’s “discretionary function” exemption, G.L. c. 258, _ 10(b). DISCUSSION At the outset, the Court expresses doubt that the plaintiffs have stated viable claims for negligence, as the facts pleaded in the Complaint do no more than attach conclusory labels – viz.,  a “failure to investigate” and a “wrongful” decision to assume custody of the minor child – to the conduct of the defendant.  Beyond such labels, the Complaint sets forth no facts permitting a plausible inference that DCF’s investigative actions and decisions were improper in any respect.  Plaintiffs stress that Ms. Jones “checked in on her son every ten to fifteen minutes,” but do not dispute that Ms. Jones left the child unattended in a strange hotel room for substantial periods of time while she consumed alcohol in a bar.  DCF […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 24, 2018 at 12:05 am

Categories: News   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Magazu, et al. v. Department of Children and Families (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-001-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11864   GREGORY T. MAGAZU & another[1]  vs.  DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.       Worcester.     September 10, 2015. – January 4, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Department of Children & Families.  Adoption, Foster parents.  Constitutional Law, Freedom of religion.  Religion.  Administrative Law, Substantial evidence.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on July 25, 2013.   The case was heard by Brian A. Davis, J., on a motion for judgment on the pleadings.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     David P. Bodanza (Amanda M. Mastalerz with him) for the plaintiffs. Annapurna Balakrishna, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant.     SPINA, J.  Gregory T. Magazu and his wife, Melanie, appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court that dismissed their appeal from a final decision of the Department of Children and Families (department) denying their application to become foster and preadoptive parents because of their use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in their home.  The Magazus argue that the department’s decision is inconsistent with its regulations, is arbitrary and capricious, and is not supported by substantial evidence where they were willing to agree not to use corporal punishment on a foster child.  They also contend that, because physical discipline is an integral aspect of their Christian faith, the department’s decision impermissibly infringes on their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.  We transferred the case to this court on our own motion.  For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the department’s decision to deny the Magazus’ application is based on a reasonable interpretation of its enabling legislation and related regulations, is not arbitrary or capricious, and is supported by substantial evidence.  We also conclude that although the department’s decision imposes a substantial burden on the Magazus’ sincerely held religious beliefs, this burden is outweighed by the department’s compelling interest in protecting the physical and emotional well-being of foster children.  Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court. 1.  Statutory and regulatory framework.  We begin with an overview of the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions that govern the foster care proceedings in this case.  The Legislature has vested the department with the authority to provide substitute care for […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 4, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , , , ,

Families of Marathon Bombing Victims Could Receive $1 Million Each

One Fund Boston administrator Kenneth Feinberg led a Town Hall meeting on Monday to discuss how funds will be distributed to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Feinberg, who helped distribute the private funds for victims of 9/11, the Aurora, CO theater shooting and the Virginia Tech shooting, said the final protocol for fund distribution will be completed by May 15.  The One Fund Boston currently has $ 28 million pledged, with $ 11 million in cash, Feinberg said in a publicly broadcast meeting from the Copley Public Library. Feinberg reiterated that it was possible the families of the four victims could be given a million dollars. Initial protocol listed different levels of compensation for double and single amputees.  “Whatever we do with this fund is inadequate. Lower your expectations of this fund. If you had a billion you wouldn’t have enough money to … compensate people,” Feinberg said. Claims will be accepted from May 15 to June 15. From June 16 to the end of June, Feinberg and his six assistants will determine who is eligible.   “Actual checks will go out to people who have proven claims on June 30,” Feinberg said. In attendance Monday were members of the Massachusetts Bar Association offering free legal advice to those seeking claims. Feinberg said emergency funds will be granted to claimants for initial claims, while victims provide things such as doctor bills to bring their claim up to protocol.  Feinberg said there have already been “a couple 100” claims submitted through the OneFundBoston site. Individuals can also call 855-617-3683 (FUND) for more information. On June 30, an independent audit will begin to look at how much money was received and how much was given out. The audit will be made public. How much money was individually given and to whom will not be made public, he said. “The fund will continue. I’m sure there will be more money after June 30 that will come into the fund,” Feinberg said. A second town hall meeting was to take place on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. at the Copley Library and was available by webcast. Feinberg held an open discussion on the protocol for victims to receive money, but he stated his missive clearly. “The mayor has been clear. The mayor has been clear. Get the money out. Our mission at One Fund Boston is to get you your money,” he said. South End Patch

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Categories: Arrests   Tags: , , , , , , ,