National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

S.S. v. McMullen

Plaintiff, an eight-year-old girl, alleged that three employees of the Missouri Division of Family Services violated her substantive due process right to be reasonably safe from harm. The agency placed plaintiff in her father’s custody knowing that he associated with a convicted pedophile. Shortly after plaintiff was placed in her father’s custody, that individual sexually assaulted her. Plaintiff argued that the state-created danger theory applies such that the agency employees had a duty to protect her, and they affirmatively placed her in a position of danger that she otherwise would not have faced.

 

Overview

FILE NO., COURT AND DATE FILED

4:97-cv-00608-SOW (W.D. Mo., Apr. 27, 1997)

CITATIONS

186 F.3d 1066 (8th Cir. 1999), rev’d en banc, 225 F.3d 960 (8th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 904 (2001)

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS

Ellen Day Jervis
Lisa A. Weixelman
Polsinelli, Shalton Welte Seulthaus
700 West 47th Street, Suite 1000
Kansas City, MO 64112-1802
(816) 753-1000
Fax: (816) 753-1536
lweixelman@pswslaw.com

HISTORY AND STATUS

Plaintiff child brought a 1983 action against state employees for placing her in her father’s custody. The district court dismissed the case, and plaintiff appealed. In July 1999, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. However, in September 1999, the judgment was vacated and rehearing en banc was granted. After an en banc reversal, plaintiff applied for and was denied a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.