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In re S.F.M.D.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

October 14, 2014

F.D. (Father), Appellant, R.R. (Mother), Appellant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Edward E. Moore, Respondent Juvenile Officer.

Aristotle N. Rodopoulos, for Appellant F.D.

Meredyth A. Vick, for Appellant R.R.

Before Division Three: Gary D. Witt, Presiding, Judge, Joseph M. Ellis, Judge and Thomas H. Newton, Judge. All concur.


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Joseph M. Ellis, Judge

Father and Mother appeal from a judgment entered by the Circuit Court of Jackson County assuming jurisdiction over their minor child, S.F.M.D., concluding that S.F.M.D. was in need of care and treatment, and taking custody of S.F.M.D. For the following reasons, the judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

When S.F.M.D. was almost three months old, on August 29, 2013, in response to a domestic disturbance call, police officers arrived at the Kansas City, Missouri apartment where Father, Mother, and S.F.M.D. resided. Father was placed under arrest.

After noticing a burn on S.F.M.D.'s leg, the police asked that S.F.M.D. be taken to Children's Mercy Hospital for evaluation. At the hospital, the burn was examined, Mother was questioned by a hospital social worker, and a skeletal survey was performed on S.F.M.D. The skeletal survey did not reveal any abnormalities. Mother told the social worker that S.F.M.D. had gotten burned on August 25 when the family dog bumped into her ironing board and her iron had fallen and contacted S.F.M.D.'s leg. Mother reported that she and Father, who arrived shortly after the accident, had treated the burn with olive oil, Neosporin, and gauze. Mother revealed to the social worker that there was a lengthy history of domestic violence between Mother and Father and that such incidents had intensified after S.F.M.D. got burned. After S.F.M.D. was treated and Mother was interviewed, Mother was placed under arrest for child endangerment, and S.F.M.D. was placed in police protective custody.

On August 30, 2013, the Juvenile Officer filed a Petition alleging that S.F.M.D. was without proper care, custody, and support because Mother neglects his medical needs, specifically referencing Mother's failure to seek medical treatment for the burn on S.F.M.D.'s leg. Later that day, the Family Court issued an Order for Temporary Protective Custody Pursuant to Rule 123.04, placing S.F.M.D. in the custody of the Children's Division. An investigator with the Children's Division was assigned to investigate the circumstances surrounding the S.F.M.D.'s burnt leg and allegations of domestic violence between Mother and Father.

After being released on bail, on September 2, 2013, Mother met with a caseworker at Truman Medical Center. Mother executed a Petition for Order of Protection against Father that was filed later that day. In her petition, Mother asserted that, on August 28, Father, agitated that she had allowed the baby to get burned,

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had beaten her in the head with brass knuckles. She claimed that the following day Father had hit and punched her while she was holding S.F.M.D. in her arms and that he would not let her leave the apartment. She stated that Father had repeatedly hit her in the preceding week and that she was afraid that he would harm her when he was released from jail. After completing her Petition, Mother was escorted by the police to a shelter for battered women.

On September 3, 2013, Mother told the investigator from the Children's Division that incidents of domestic violence between her and Father had been going on for three months. She told the investigator that she had filed an ex parte order for protection and was staying at a domestic violence shelter. After staying at the domestic violence shelter for a week, Mother returned to live with Father.

On September 18, 2013, S.F.M.D. was taken back to Children's Mercy Hospital for re-examination and was given another skeletal survey. The skeletal survey showed healing fractures on four of the ribs on the child's right side.

On September 30, 2013, Mother's Petition for Order of Protection was dismissed when neither Mother nor Father appeared for a hearing. That same day, the Juvenile Officer filed his First Amended Petition. In the first count, he alleged that Mother had neglected the child based upon S.F.M.D. having sustained a leg burn and some broken ribs. In the second count, the Juvenile Officer alleged that Father had abused or neglected S.F.M.D. based upon the leg burn, the broken ribs, a general history of violent and ...

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