City petitions to have suit against DHS removed to federal court

By Jon Campisi | Mar 16, 2012

Attorneys for the City of Philadelphia have petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to transfer a lawsuit filed against the city’s Department of Human Services from state court to the federal venue, arguing that the civil rights violations alleged in the lawsuit must be heard out in a federal jurisdiction.

The Notice of Removal was filed March 14 at the federal court in Philadelphia by Deputy City Solicitor Matthew Kevin Hubbard.

The lawsuit was originally filed March 2 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Philadelphia attorneys Richard Golomb and Steven D. Resnick of the firm Golomb & Honik, P.C.

The plaintiffs in the suit, Shamayra Madison and Martin and Tracey Stewart, accuse the city’s Department of Human Services of failing to inform the plaintiffs that a boy the Stewarts were planning to adopt had a history of sexual abuse.

The child, who was 13 when the Stewarts adopted him following a period of foster parenting, ended up raping and molesting the Stewarts’ 2-year-old grandson.

The toddler is the son of plaintiff Madison.

The Stewarts adopted the young teen in late November 2009; the rape incident took place in late August 2010.

The teen remained in the Stewarts’ house until Nov. 10, 2010, when he was arrested and charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault, indecent exposure and simple assault, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claims that DHS and codefendant Bethanna Inc., which helped facilitate the adoption, knew or should have known that the teen had a history of sexual abuse and that his “psychological state made him a serious threat to victimize other children.”

The complaint accuses the defendants of withholding information regarding the teen’s history.

“Bethanna and DHS failed to disclose [the teen’s] history of sexual abuse and psychological state to the Stewarts with the intention of inducing them to adopt [the teen],” the lawsuit states.

The complaint claims the defendants’ conduct of concealing and misrepresenting the teen’s history of abuse was willful, reckless and wanton in nature.

The lawsuit contains counts of fraud, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligent failure to disclose, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil rights violations, specifically the plaintiffs Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The defense removal notice states that codefendant Bethanna Inc. also consents to remove the action to the U.S. District Court.

The state case ID number is 120204077.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01330.


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