United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
G. CARR SR. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
a suit under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, in which the plaintiffs,
the parents P.F. (father) and D.F. (mother) of a minor
daughter, B.F., allege that the defendants, employees of the
Ottawa County, Ohio, Job and Family Services agency (JFS)
violated their rights to procedural due process. The gravamen
of the complaint is that, without a court order, and over the
objections of the plaintiffs, the defendants removed B.F.
from the family home in violation of the right of familial
companionship, care, control, and custody.
are two motions to exclude expert testimony: defendants'
motion to exclude the testimony of plaintiffs' expert,
Michael Corey (Doc. 58) and plaintiffs' motion to exclude
the testimony of defendants' expert, Judith K. Engelhart.
(Doc. 71 (corrected)).
reasons that follow, I grant both motions.
Removal of B.F.
afternoon of April 27, 2015, P.F. had taken two foster
children (not plaintiffs in this action) to attend a soccer
game in which one of the children was playing. Plaintiff D.F.
had remained home with B.F.
thereafter, Ottawa County Deputy Sheriff Matt Gandee came to
the home with JFS social service workers defendants Betsy
Gordon and Julie Barth. Gordon told D.F. that there was a
sexual abuse allegation against P.F.
parties disputed what happened next.
to the plaintiffs, defendant Gordon presented D.F. with an
“ultimatum:” either P.F. would have to vacate the
home pending further investigation or B.F. and the two foster
children would be removed and placed in “respite
care.” Neither caseworker mentioned a less drastic
alternative available under Ohio law - namely, creation of an
in-home safety plan.
objected to the children's removal if P.F. were to remain
in the home. To be compliant with the caseworkers, she filled
out the respite care “paperwork.”
was packing bags for the children, P.F. arrived home with the
foster children. He likewise objected to either having to
leave the home or having the authorities remove B.F. and the
Hartlage, who was to be the foster parent for B.F. and one of
the foster children, had also arrived. He testified P.F.
objected to leaving the family home.
in contrast, assert that, when presented with the option of
removal of B.F. and the two foster children or P.F.'s
living elsewhere for the duration, D.F. said she did not want
her husband to leave. Thus, the defendants contend, they had
obtained either express or implicit consent for B.F.'s
P.F. and D.F. had retained counsel, their lawyer notified JFS
that his clients objected to continued removal of B.F. from
the family home. On receiving this notification, JFS filed an
abuse complaint with the Ottawa County Juvenile Court seeking
an ex parte order for temporary emergency shelter
care for B.F. On May 15, 2015, the court ...