United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
F. Cox United States District Court Judge
has brought a multitude of § 1983 claims against the
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and various
State Defendants relating to child abuse and neglect
proceedings that were initiated against him. Defendants have
filed a Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons below, the Court
concludes on each count that Plaintiff has either failed to
state a claim or that his claims are barred by absolute or
qualified immunity. Therefore, the Court shall grant
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
Paul Smith is a resident of Macomb County. Amended Complaint,
¶ 1. In August 2014, Plaintiff brought his ten-month old
daughter to a Farmington Hills Urgent Care facility for
evaluation of injuries that she had suffered the day before.
Id. at ¶ 20-21. She had significant bruising on
her face and showed signs of left ankle discomfort.
Id. at ¶ 21. Based on these injuries, personnel
at the facility filed a suspected child abuse and neglect
report with the Macomb County office of the Michigan
Department of Health and Human Services. Id. at
Department initiated an investigation. Defendant Katherine
Oren, a child protective services social worker, arrived at
the urgent care facility and interviewed Plaintiff.
Id. at ¶ 27. Oren then sought Plaintiff's
compliance with a voluntary safety plan. Id. at
¶ 28-29. To induce compliance, she threatened: to revoke
the visa status of Plaintiff's wife, that criminal child
abuse proceedings could be initiated against Plaintiff, and
that deviations from the plan would result in the removal of
Plaintiff's children from the home. Id. at
¶ 222. Plaintiff agreed to the plan, which provided that
he would leave his home during the investigation and that he
would not have unsupervised contact with his children.
Id. at ¶ 28-29, 224.
next day, Defendant Jennifer Rein, another child protective
services social worker, became the lead investigator on the
case, under the supervision of Defendant Lashonda Reed.
Id. at ¶ 9, 38. During the investigation,
Plaintiff was placed on the Central Child Abuse and Neglect
Registry as a perpetrator. Id. at ¶ 166. Based
on Rein's investigation, the Department filed petitions
seeking to terminate Plaintiff's parental rights to his
children and requesting an order removing Plaintiff from his
home. Doc. # 21, Ex. A. The petitions alleged that Plaintiff
had failed to comply with the voluntary safety plan and that
his daughter was severely injured while in his care.
November 2014, following a preliminary hearing, the Macomb
County Circuit Court entered an order authorizing the
petitions and finding that there was probable cause to
believe one or more of the allegations in the petitions were
true. Doc # 21, Ex. B. The Court ordered that Plaintiff could
not be present in any home, at any time, where his children
were residing. Id. The Court also ordered Plaintiff
to leave his home and have no contact with his children
except for supervised visits. Doc # 21, Ex. C.
March 2015, a jury trial was held to determine whether the
court would acquire jurisdiction over the minor children.
Amended Complaint, ¶ 70. The jury returned a verdict
dismissing all of the petitions against Plaintiff and the
Department closed its case. Id. at ¶ 71-72. The
next month, Plaintiff was advised that he was being removed
from the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.
Id. at ¶ 73.
on behalf of himself and his three minor children, has sued
the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services,
Department Director Nick Lyon, Macomb County Director Valerie
Nunn, Macomb County Director of Children's Services
Michael Patterson, and child protective services workers
Lashonda Reed, Jennifer Rein, and Katherine Oren. In his
amended complaint, Plaintiff raises the following § 1983
Plaintiff alleges that Rein's CPS investigation, with
Reed's approval, denied him his due process right to be
free from interference with familial associations and
relationships and violated the Equal Protection Clause
because Defendants' made arbitrary and capricious
determinations. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that his
rights were violated by Defendants' filing of the
petitions and by their failure to properly investigate the
allegations against him with respect to his children K.G
(Count One), E.S. (Count Two), and J.S. (Count Three).
Plaintiff alleges that Lyon, Nunn, and Patterson failed to
properly supervise the CPS investigation, violating the Due
Process and Equal Protection Clauses.
Plaintiff alleges that Rein and Reed illegally released
investigative reports to the mothers of his children, in
violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
Plaintiff alleges that Reed, Rein, and Oren's
implementation of the voluntary safety plan violated his
right to use of his property, in violation of the Due Process
and Equal Protection Clauses.
Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief finding that the
implementation of the voluntary safety plan was
unconstitutional. He also requests that the Court order the
Department to ensure that safety plans are not arbitrarily
implemented without recourse for review, nullification, or