An Idaho mother’s appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court regarding her claim of civil rights violations by doctors, a social worker, a police detective, a county prosecutor, and Child Protective Services has been denied today.
Kristine McCreery was separated from her (then) 15-year-old son in 2019 after a hospital stay in Boise led to a CPS investigation in which the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare determined the state should remove the boy to foster care. He was held in state custody for 15 months.
Idaho Dispatch reported on the details of the boy’s illness, his treatment at St. Alphonsus hospital and St. Luke’s hospital, the filing of a report of suspected abuse and neglect by Drs. Jennifer King and Amy Barton, the CPS investigation, and the CPS action being initiated in family court. You can find the story here: Mother Who Claims Doctors and CPS Violated Her Civil Rights to Be Heard Tomorrow In Idaho Supreme Court – Idaho Dispatch
The District Court’s summary explanation of the case was,
“McCreery filed a complaint against the two physicians who reported the alleged abuse, the detective who investigated the reports, the deputy prosecutor who filed the CPS action, and an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare social worker who submitted an investigatory report and testified in the CPA case, alleging they violated her constitutional rights and Idaho’s false reporting statutes when they took actions to separate her from [her son.] The district court dismissed all of McCreery’s claims with prejudice after finding that the Respondents were immune from liability and that the allegations in McCreery’s complaint failed to state any valid claim upon which relief could be granted.”
McCreery appealed the decision to the Idaho Supreme Court. The summary statement released by the Court today explaining the decision to deny her appeal and affirm the District Court judgment explains,
“…the allegations in McCreery’s third amended complaint failed to state a valid claim upon which relief could be granted. McCreery filed a motion to amend her complaint to add new causes of action against the Respondents, which the district court denied. On appeal to this Court, McCreery challenged the district court’s dismissal of her claims relying exclusively on the proposed fourth amended complaint. However, in doing so, McCreery failed to argue the district court abused its discretion in denying her motion to amend. The Idaho Supreme Court held that McCreery’s sole reliance on facts and allegations in the fourth amended complaint operated as a complete waiver of review of the trial court’s dismissal of her third amended complaint.”
Chief Justice Bevan explains the Court upheld the District Court’s decision because of errors by McCreery in presenting the arguments properly through multiple amended complaints.
“Although McCreery would have to argue the viability of any new allegations in the fourth amended complaint to argue that the district court abused its discretion in denying her motion to amend, she failed to follow this procedure. Instead, McCreery focuses on the facts and causes of action alleged in the fourth amended complaint as if the motion to amend had been granted and the complaint actually filed, claiming it is the operative document for this Court’s review on appeal. McCreery’s reliance on allegations presented in her fourth amended complaint, while disputing the district court’s dismissal of claims raised in her third amended complaint, complicates this Court’s ability to resolve what arguments have been preserved for review and is a fatal defect.Advertisement
For example, at several points on appeal McCreery alleges that Dr. King acted under color of state law because she is a CARES investigator:
• Dr. King is “a physician in Ada County who treated B.M., acting under color of state law as a “Children at Risk Evaluation Services” (CARES) investigator)”;
• “Dr. King[’s] and Dr. Barton’s involvement as CARES evaluation [sic] with immediate consequences, i.e. being separated from her son and the seizure of medical information by law enforcement officers without a warrant.”
However, the allegation that Dr. King was “acting under color of state law” in her capacity as a CARES worker is notably absent from the third amended complaint. McCreery’s third amended complaint acknowledged that Dr. King saw B.M. at Saint Alphonsus, not St. Luke’s, and that Dr. King is not a CARES worker.”
Bevan continues to explain in the Court’s analysis of the appeal,
“McCreery may not merge the allegations and argument of two distinct and separate motions on appeal. If McCreery intended to utilize the allegations raised in the fourth amended complaint, she was obligated to analyze whether the district court abused its discretion in denying her motion to amend. She has not done so. “Failing to demonstrate that an abuse of discretion occurred under any part of the test . . . is fatal to [an] argument that the [trial] court abused its discretion.” Gilbert v. Radnovich, 171 Idaho 566, 524 P.3d 397, 413 (2023) (quoting Smith v. Smith, 167 Idaho 568, 584, 473 P.3d 837, 853 (2020)). Other than identifying that Rule 15 motions to amend are reviewed for an abuse of discretion in her standard of review, McCreery does not attempt to argue that the district court abused its discretion.”
The issues of alleged civil rights violations and the District Court’s decision that the Respondents are immune from liability went unaddressed by the Idaho Supreme Court. The entire opinion can be viewed here:Published Opinion (1)
Idaho Dispatch asked McCreery for her response to today’s Court opinion. She declined to comment on the matter at this time.
Tags: Abuse, Amy Barton, Child Protective Services, CPS, Erin Pon, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho Supreme Court, IDHW, ISC, Jennifer King, Kristine McCreery, Medical Neglect, Neglect, Shari Dodge, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, St. Lukes, Teresa Torres