Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of her wrongful death complaint. DSS received a child abuse report regarding a child under the age of two, whom the caller believed was being exposed to drugs. The caseworker attempted to contact the parents but was unsuccessful and followed up with a letter. The following month, the police submitted another child abuse report, which required the caseworker to physically meet with the child and parents. Police found narcotics inside the child’s shoes and a candy bowl. The parents denied drug use and agreed to submit to a drug test. The child later died from a fentanyl overdose. Plaintiff, the child’s grandmother, filed suit alleging that the caseworker had a ministerial duty to make a provider referral and that the failure to do so caused the child’s death. The trial court dismissed the case on grounds of official immunity.
Where the caseworker had discretion in how to respond to the reports of child abuse, she had not failed to perform ministerial duties and therefore was entitled to official immunity from negligence claims arising from her discretionary acts.
Judgment is affirmed.
Forester v. May (MLW No. 80225/Case No. SC99928 – 9 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Breckenridge, J.) Appealed from circuit court, Phelps County, Beger, J. (Matthew B. Vianello, Clayton, and R. Tyson Mutrux, Columbia, for appellant) (Eliot Michael Gusdorf, St. Louis, for respondent)