Lee Davis: 6th Circuit Hears TN Case About 13-Year-Old Child Labeled Child Abuser By DCS

Thursday, February 21, 2013
Lee Davis
Lee Davis

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case out of Tennessee involving a 13-year-old labeled a child abuser DCS but this label is vehemently contested by his parents.

The case, Wright v. O'Day, concerning a young boy known as D.W., was brought by the child’s mother who sued the Governor of Tennessee and the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services claiming that they violated the boy’s due process rights by including him on the state’s child abuse registry without first offering him an administrative hearing to challenge the listing.

The issue arose after D.

W. was accused by another child, L.M., of touching his penis and sticking his finger in L.M.’s butt. D.W. denied the allegations during an interview with Children’s Services, but was later told that he would be indicated as a perpetrator of child abuse in the state’s official registry.
D.W. and his mother asked for a formal review of their case, but were never told what evidence had been collected against the boy. He was also denied an administrative hearing because the Children’s Services office claimed the designation would not affect his employment. D.W. pointed out that the designation would not disappear when he turned 18, but would instead follow him for life.

When the case was brought before a lower court, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that any claim based on the child abuser designation’s effect on D.W.’s employment did not present a justiciable case or controversy because D.W.’s claim of injury was speculative.

The district court agreed with the Commissioner and decided to dismiss the case, saying that the harm caused by the designation was in the future and was thus not justiciable.

The Sixth Circuit disagreed, holding that the designation as a child abuser is essentially permanent and that this amounts to a concrete injury. Given this injury, the child should not have to wait until he is denied an employment opportunity to bring the challenge. The Sixth Circuit made clear that because the classification as a child abuser leads to actual injury, D.W. has standing to challenge the classification.

To read the full opinion, click here.

---

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)


Chattanooga Chamber Presents Business Calendar For April 24-28

MON/24 Ribbon Cutting for Oracle Wealth Management 10-10:30 a.m. Oracle Wealth Management: 6111 Shallowford Rd, Ste 101 Join the Chattanooga Chamber for a ribbon cutting at Oracle Wealth Management.   TUES/25 LCAA AM Regathering 7:30-9 a.m. The Camp House: 149 East ML King Boulevard Free.   TUES/25  ... (click for more)

GDOL To Host Recruitment For Quality Staffing In LaFayette

The Georgia Department of Labor’s LaFayette Career Center will host a recruitment for Quality Staffing to hire 100 entry-level quality control employees to work in Rock Spring. The recruitment will be held on Tuesday, May 2, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the career center, 200 West Villanow St. in LaFayette. Due to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health regulations, all applicants ... (click for more)

Severe Storms Rake Chattanooga Area; Flash Flooding Possible

Severe storms raked through the Chattanooga area on Saturday. Sale Creek was one of the hardest hit areas. Storm damage on Cooper Road included two crushed cars. Trees were on homes and railroad tracks that are the main line between Chattanooga and Cincinnati. Cooper Road is near Lake Chickamauga. There was also damage along Providence Road at Sale Creek. ... (click for more)

Body Believed To Be A Woman Is Found On Lookout Mountain

Hunters found a decomposed human body on Saturday afternoon in a remote area off High Road, Cloudland, Walker County. Law enforcement believes the unidentified remains to be a female. It appears the body may have been at the location for four weeks. On March 19, a vehicle was found abandoned on private property in close proximity to where the body was located ... (click for more)

No Tax-Supported Entity Should Get Secrecy In Spending

A shadowy situation has emerged in Chattanooga with an organization that manages millions of taxpayer dollars with no transparency and such a surprising disregard for accountability that one wonders what it would take to wake up elected officials who are supposedly in charge. Welcome to the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose lawyer threatened to sue the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Is Dr. Edwards The One?

Just hours after the chairman of the Hamilton County School Board emailed a list of 14 candidates on Friday afternoon to be considered as the next Superintendent of the 42,000-student system to the other board members, Dr. Nakia Edwards, an Assistant Commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Education, became the early “common sense” favorite. And, at first glance, she has ... (click for more)