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Luber v. Ross

January 5, 2006

RONALD LUBER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TRACI ROSS, KATHY MCLAUGHLIN, WARREN COUNTY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pending before this court is a motion for summary judgment by the defendants.*fn1 Plaintiff pro se Ronald Luber filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending, inter alia, that defendants violated his due process rights. For the following reason, the motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

II. Procedural History

On April 21, 2003, Luber filed his complaint alleging that a child abuse investigation conducted by the defendants infringed upon his due process rights. See Dkt. No. 1. On June 2, Judge David N. Hurd issued an order that dismissed the suit as to most of the defendants,*fn2 and ordered Luber to file an amended complaint. See Dkt. No. 4. On July 2, Luber filed an amended complaint which was served upon the remaining defendants.*fn3

See Dkt. No. 6. On August 18, the defendants filed an answer. See Dkt. No. 7. On August 19, this case was reassigned to Judge Lawrence E. Kahn.*fn4 See Dkt. No. 9. On December 9, a pretrial scheduling order was entered.*fn5 See Dkt. No. 18.

On October 18, 2004, Luber filed a motion for summary judgment. See Dkt. No. 38. On November 1, the defendants filed an opposition brief. See Dkt. No. 40.*fn6 On December 29, 2004, this court denied Luber's motion for summary judgment. See Dkt. No. 50.

On July 12, 2005, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. See Dkt. No. 68. All responsive pleadings have now been filed.

III. Facts

Defendant Traci Ross is a case worker at the Warren County Department of Social Services (DSS), Child Abuse Division. Kathy McLaughlin is Ross' supervisor. At the time of the facts alleged in the complaint, Luber was permitted supervised visitation with his minor daughter for a period of six hours per week. On January 24, 2002, DSS received a hotline call alleging that Luber was sexually abusive to his daughter. Defs. Statement of Material Facts ¶ 4, Dkt. No. 68, Ex. 17. The caller claimed that Luber would seek inappropriate affection from his daughter, including kissing her on the lips and fondling her buttocks in public. See Intake Report, Dkt. 68, Ex. E. It was also reported that Luber would repeatedly engage in such acts despite the visible discomfort of his daughter and after he had been asked to stop. Id.*fn7

On January 28, 2002, four days following the hotline call, a notification letter was sent to Luber regarding the pending investigation against him. Defs. Statement of Material Facts ¶ 5, Dkt. No. 68, Ex. 17, (Letter, Ex. E). Luber contends that the letter was not sent to him until after the investigation was closed in late February. Pl. Statement of Material Facts ¶ 5, Dkt. No. 72.

On February 13, 2002, Melissa Bucher of Child Protective Services attempted to perform an unannounced home visit at Luber's residence. Id. at ¶¶ 17-20. Bucher reported that he refused to let her in and advised her that he wanted an attorney before answering any questions. Id. Luber denies that he was hostile to Bucher, and maintains that he was willing to cooperate with DSS throughout the investigation. Pl. Statement of Material Facts ¶ 20, Dkt. No. 72.

On February 15, 2002, caseworker Ross contacted Dr. Isele, a psychologist who had examined the minor child. Defs. Statement of Material Facts ¶¶ 20-1, Dkt. No. 68, Ex. 17. Dr. Isele reported that he "questions the relationship" between Luber and his daughter. Id. Dr. Isele further reported that Luber had inappropriate conversations with his daughter about adult things and it was his belief that the child was being manipulated and "parentified." Id.*fn8

The investigation was closed and approved on February 21, 2005. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 25-6. The initial claim of sexual abuse was found to be unsubstantiated because there was no credible evidence that Luber's conduct was for the purpose of sexual gratification. Id. He, however, was indicated for inappropriate guardianship and was found to be of a ...


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