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MOORE-BEIDL v. BEAUDOIN

June 2, 1981

Mary Carol MOORE-BEIDL, Plaintiff,
v.
John R. BEAUDOIN, Commissioner of Rensselaer County Department of Social Services, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUNSON

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

 MUNSON, Chief Judge.

 Following a trial on the merits, this Court has found it necessary to dismiss plaintiff's claims against John R. Beaudoin, Commissioner of Rensselaer County Department of Social Services. Plaintiff, Mary Carol Moore-Beidl filed the instant action February 2, 1981, claiming a denial of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and simultaneously filed a habeas corpus petition seeking the release of both herself and her youngest son, Joseph Michael Beidl, from the alleged unlawful detention by the Rensselaer County Department of Social Services.

 The plaintiff has various grounds for her allegations, however dismissal is appropriate in each instance. Although many of her claims tend to overlap, any allegations pertaining to her November 1979 arrest by Rensselaer County Sheriffs are not proper subject matter of this suit, as the Sheriff's Department has not been made a party to this action.

 Plaintiff's remaining claims may be divided into two groups; those addressing the voluntariness of the custody transfer execution signed by the plaintiff on November 20, 1978, and a collection of general allegations of improper treatment afforded plaintiff and her three sons by the County Department of Social Services.

 I.

 Turning first to those general allegations, this Court finds that all claims must be prevented by virtue of the good faith immunity extended to the defendant under the auspices of § 1983. Government officials may only be held liable under § 1983 for a failure to do what is required or for overt activity which is unlawful and harmful. Doe v. New York City Department of Social Services, 649 F.2d 134 at 141 (2d Cir. 1981); citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1976); Martinez v. Mancusi, 443 F.2d 921 (2d Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 983, 91 S. Ct. 1202, 28 L. Ed. 2d 335 (1971); Holmes v. Goldin, 615 F.2d 83 (2d Cir. 1980); Duchesne v. Sugarman, 566 F.2d 817, 822 (2d Cir. 1977).

 Further, that official must know or should know that the agency action or inaction is violative of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Wood v. Strickland, 420 U.S. 308, 319-20, 95 S. Ct. 992, 999-1000, 43 L. Ed. 2d 214 (1975); LeClair v. Saunders, 627 F.2d 606, 609 (2nd Cir.1980). The Second Circuit has been very precise in the definition of the standard of care required under § 1983. Finding that agency indifference or inaction could be a basis for liability under § 1983 in Doe, supra, the Court cautioned that the agency must display deliberate and intentional disregard of a known injury to the plaintiff, or a known risk or specific duty for the imposition of liability. Doe at 149.

 Here, the plaintiff not only signed a voluntary consent form to place her children in foster care, but she also has demonstrated a history of troubled psychological behavior. This behavior led to a neglect action brought in Family Court in Rensselaer County by the Department of Social Services. The affidavits supporting that petition clearly document not only Mary Carol's erratic behavior, but also her own admissions of an inability to care for her two older boys. After appearances by both parents at a hearing in Family Court, both boys still under the age of 18 years were removed from their mother's care on December 1, 1980. Her visits with the boys were restricted, and were to be conducted under supervision. The Memorandum in support of that Order concluded that Mary Carol had demonstrated, "her complete inability to cope with reality and parent the children."

 In view of this prior judicial determination, and in light of plaintiff's consistently unstable behavior, this Court finds that the County Department of Social Services has neither acted irresponsibly nor have they perpetrated any unwarranted or unjust harm upon the plaintiff. In fact, there exists more than sufficient cause for the county agency to maintain a policy of guarded separation of mother and sons.

 Clearly the plaintiff has not met her burden in support of her allegations. Therefore, where defendants plead and prove that they acted reasonably and in good faith, they are entitled to the defense of official immunity. McKinnon v. Patterson, 568 F.2d 930, 934 (2nd Cir.1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1087, 98 S. Ct. 1282, 55 L. Ed. 2d 792 (1978).

 Despite the fact that plaintiff here is appearing pro se, the careful deference shown such a party must end when throughout the entire action, and including trial, the plaintiff has not gone beyond mere personal conclusion in an attempt to establish a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

 II.

 Plaintiff's secondary and more narrow contention that the consent signed on November 20, 1978 was not voluntary might influence both the habeas petition and the § 1983 action. However, plaintiff brings no more than mere allegation to show that the consent was in any way coerced. In any event, that "consent" has been superceded by Order of the Family Court which addresses the care and responsibility for plaintiff's two youngest sons. Hence any allegations ...


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