In the Matter of Nova C. H. (Anonymous). Suffolk County Department of Social Services, respondent; Meredith H. (Anonymous), appellant. Docket No. N-20356-17/18A-B
Submitted - November 12, 2019
Gucciardo, Northport, NY, for appellant.
M. Brown, County Attorney, Central Islip, NY (Gary L.
Rosenthal of counsel), for respondent.
A. DeNatale, Bayport, NY, attorney for the child.
C. BALKIN, J.P. LEONARD B. AUSTIN HECTOR D. LASALLE ANGELA G.
DECISION & ORDER
proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act article 10, the
mother appeals from an order of fact-finding and disposition
of the Family Court, Suffolk County (Caren Loguercio, J.),
dated June 27, 2018. The order of fact-finding and
disposition, insofar as appealed from, upon a decision of the
same court dated June 13, 2018, made after a fact-finding
hearing, found that the mother neglected the subject child
and released the child to the custody of the nonrespondent
father. The notice of appeal from the decision is deemed to
be a notice of appeal from the order of fact-finding and
disposition (see CPLR 5512[a]).
that the order of fact-finding and disposition is affirmed
insofar as appealed from, without costs or disbursements.
mother and the nonrespondent father are the unmarried parents
of the subject child, who was born in September 2014.
Following the child's birth, the child resided with the
mother until, pursuant to an order dated November 6, 2017,
the child was temporarily removed from the mother's
custody and placed with the nonparty father while allowing
the mother supervised parental access with the child.
Thereafter, in December 2017, the Suffolk County Department
of Social Services (hereinafter DSS) filed a neglect petition
against the mother. The petition was based on allegations
that, in November 2017, the mother resided with the child at
a property which had been condemned and that, on one occasion
that month, she was observed sleeping, with the child, on the
back porch of a friend's home. The petition also alleged
that, on one occasion of supervised parental access with the
child, the mother fled with the child to the condemned
property. After a fact-finding hearing, by decision dated
June 13, 2018, the Family Court found that the mother
neglected the child. By order of fact-finding and disposition
dated June 27, 2018, the court determined that the mother had
neglected the child and released the child to the custody of
the father. The mother appeals from so much of the order as
determined that she neglected the child.
party seeking to establish neglect must show, by a
preponderance of the evidence, first, that a child's
physical, mental or emotional condition has been impaired or
is in imminent danger of becoming impaired and second, that
the actual or threatened harm to the child is a consequence
of the failure of the parent or caretaker to exercise a
minimum degree of care in providing the child with proper
supervision or guardianship" (Nicholson v
Scoppetta, 3 N.Y.3d 357, 368 [citation omitted];
see Family Ct Act § 1012[f][i][B]). "Great
deference is given to the Family Court's credibility
determinations, as it is in the best position to assess the
credibility of the witnesses having had the opportunity to
view the witnesses, hear the testimony, and observe their
demeanor" (Matter of Oliver A. [Oguis A.-D.],
167 A.D.3d 867, 868).
contrary to the mother's contentions, DSS established, by
a preponderance of the evidence, that she neglected the child
by failing to provide the child with adequate shelter and
supervision (see Matter of Rakim W., 10 A.D.3d 453,
454; Matter of Baby Girl E., 306 A.D.2d 343). The
evidence demonstrated, inter alia, that the mother and the
child lived in a condemned building, which did not have heat
or electricity, after a notice to vacate by reason of
"unsafe equipment" and "unlawful
structure" was affixed by the Town of Brookhaven to the
building's door on October 27, 2017 (see Code of
the Town of Brookhaven §§ 73-3, 73-14). The
evidence further demonstrated that during supervised parental
access scheduled to occur at a pizza parlor, the mother
brought the child back to her apartment in the condemned
building, despite the fact that the notice to vacate was
still in effect. The evidence also demonstrated that in
November 2017, one of the mother's neighbors observed the
mother, and the child clothed only in a onesie, asleep
outside of that neighbor's home on the floor of the back
porch, resting only on a comforter. Notably, that neighbor
had previously offered for the mother and the child to stay
in her home, an offer which the mother declined.
we agree with the Family Court's finding that the ...