The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL B. MUKASEY
MICHAEL B. MUKASEY, U.S.D.J.
Plaintiff sues New York State Department of Social Services ("NYSDSS") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and 42 U.S.C. § 1988, claiming that defendant violated his rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Defendant moves to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. For the many reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.
Plaintiff and defendant have recounted only sketchy facts in the complaint and in their briefs. In order to supplement this meager record, I have incorporated facts from the administrative and judicial documents appended to Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Section II, infra, which sets forth the statutory scheme provided by Article 6, Title 6, of the Social Services Law ("SSL"), further supplements the record.
Defendant maintains the Central Register of the State of New York as a repository of reports from various sources of suspected abuse or maltreatment of children. See SSL § 422(1). In or about September 1985, there was entered on that register a report that plaintiff had sexually abused his two children. (see Pl. Ex. B)
The alleged abuse had been reported by a caseworker for the Bronx Special Services for Children. Under SSL § 413, the Bronx Special Services caseworker had an affirmative duty to forward to NYSDSS a report of suspected abuse once she had a "reasonable cause to suspect" that plaintiff's children were sexually abused.
At plaintiff's request, an administrative hearing was held on October 23, 1989, at which plaintiff sought to have the report expunged from the Central Register. (Koweek Aff.; Def. Mem. at 6) The hearing officer decided that some evidence existed to support the report, and recounted the procedural history of plaintiff's case as follows. On October 7, 1985, the Commissioner of NYSDSS filed a petition in Bronx Family Court seeking a declaration of child abuse. The petition alleged the same acts of sexual abuse as the "indicated," i.e. substantiated, report maintained by the Central Register. (Pl. Ex. H at 3) On May 15, 1986, defendant filed another petition in the Bronx Family Court seeking an order declaring plaintiff's son an abused or neglected child. (Pl. Ex. B) On October 7, 1986, the Family Court entered an order that included the finding that plaintiff had abused his two children. On May 6, 1987, the Family Court entered an Order of Disposition that reached the same conclusion as the October 7, 1986 order. (Id.)
The administrative hearing officer reiterated the SSL § 422(8)(b)(ii) requirement that a "Family Court finding of abuse or neglect against the subject of a report in the Central Register in regard to an allegation contained therein shall create an irrebuttable presumption that the allegation in the report is substantiated by some evidence." (Id. at 4) Because the Family Court had found that plaintiff sexually abused his two children, the administrative hearing officer determined that "it is irrebuttably presumed that there is some credible evidence that [plaintiff] so abused his children." (Id. at 5)
Plaintiff now challenges the fairness of the "fair hearing," claiming that "the finding of sexual abuse in the Central Register, without an impartial hearing [was] in violation of [his] rights of procedural due process. (Compl. P6) He also claims that SSL's "some credible evidence" standard of review is impermissible, vague, and over-broad, and is less than the standard of "substantial" evidence employed by most administrative determinations.
Article 6, Title 6, of the SSL governs the recording and investigation of reports of suspected abuse or maltreatment of children, and the administrative process by which substantiated reports may be reviewed and, if appropriate, expunged. Plaintiff does not contend that defendant violated the SSL's statutory scheme in his case.
Within 24 hours of making or receiving from the Central Register a report of suspected child sexual abuse or maltreatment, the local agency must commence an investigation into the report. SSL § 424(6). The local agency must file a preliminary report with the Central Register within seven days of receipt of the initial report, and follow-up reports "at regular intervals." Id. § 424(3). The local agency also must notify the subject of the report of the existence of the report and of his or her rights under the SSL. Id.
Within 90 days of receiving the report, the local agency must complete its investigation and determine whether the report is "unfounded" or "indicated." Id. § 424(7). A report is "indicated" if "an investigation determines that some credible evidence of the alleged abuse or maltreatment exists." Id. § 412(6). Otherwise, a report is deemed "unfounded." Id. § 412(5). If the local agency determines that a report is unfounded, the ...