Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sadler v. Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 17, 2019

MELISSA SADLER, Individually and as Parent and Next Friend of S.S., A.S., Z.S., and I.S., Minor Children, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
IOWA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES (DHS); CHARLES M. PALMER, In His Capacity as Director of DHS; STACY DEBERG, Individually, and in Her Capacity as Child Protective Worker; LORI MULDER, Individually and in Her Capacity as DHS Social Worker II, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Butler County, Linda M. Fangman, Judge.

         Melissa Sadler, individually and as parent and next friend of four children, appeals the district court's order granting the defendants' amotion to dismiss.

          John G. Daufeldt of Daufeldt Law Firm, P.L.C., Conroy, for appellants.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Charles K. Phillips, Assistant Attorney General, for appellees.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Gamble, S.J. [*]

          Vaitheswaran, Judge.

         Melissa Sadler, individually and as parent and next friend of four children, filed an action against the Iowa Department of Human Services, director Charles Palmer, child protective worker Stacy DeBerg, and social worker Lori Mulder.[1] She alleged the defendants "fail[ed] to report child abuse or interfere[d] with the reporting of child abuse pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 232.69 and 232.75 [(2017)]." She claimed their "failure to report or the interfering with reporting [was] a wanton and reckless disregard of and for the Plaintiffs' safety and well being," entitling her to actual and punitive damages and attorney fees. In separate counts, Sadler also sought injunctive relief.

         The defendants moved to dismiss the petition. They asserted the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and the petition failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. At a hearing on the motion, the defendants asked the court to take judicial notice of underlying juvenile court files. The district court declined, limiting its consideration of the motion to the allegations in the petition. Following the hearing, the court dismissed the counts relating to these defendants.[2]

         On appeal, Sadler contends the district court erred in (1) finding a lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on her failure to comply with the Iowa Tort Claims Act, (2) finding the monetary-damage claim was an impermissible attempt to appeal prior litigation, and (3) dismissing the monetary-damage claim for failure to state a claim. We find the third issue dispositive.

         In concluding Sadler failed to state a claim, the district court reasoned as follows:

In Count I the Plaintiff claims Defendant D.H.S. failed to report or interfered with a report pursuant to Iowa Code § 232.75. The Plaintiffs further argue the State violated Iowa Code § 232.69, [addressing] mandatory and permissive reporters, and later attempted to orally amend the petition to claim a violation of Iowa Code § 232.71 which has been repealed. However, the Court believes counsel was referring to 232.71B, and the Plaintiffs claim this is a cause of action because there is a statutory duty required from the Department.
In looking first at Iowa Code § 232.69, which deals with mandatory and permissive reporters, it delineates when they need to report and to whom they need to report. It also deals with the training required for mandatory and permissive reporters. This code section deals solely with reporters and training. It does not in any way deal with the D.H.S. investigation or any cause of action flowing from a D.H.S. investigation.
Iowa Code § 232.75 is the sanction section for violating Iowa Code § 232.69. Specifically Iowa Code § 232.75(2) states that any person, official, agency, or institution required by section 232.69 to report a suspected case of child abuse who knowingly fails to do so or who knowingly interferes with the making of that report is civilly liable for damages proximately caused. This section specifically refers to mandatory reporters who failed to make a report. It does not deal with D.H.S. workers and a duty to investigate. Nowhere under Iowa Code § 232.75 puts any duty to investigate or any civil liability on the Department for failure to investigate. . . .
When the Plaintiffs tried to orally amend the petition to Iowa Code ยง 232.71B, they did not identify in any manner how the Department of Human Services failed to comply with the duties of that code section. Rather, they made a blanket statement ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.