Summary judgment on all causes of action on behalf of child welfare agency in Florida
We obtained a directed verdict at trial in an action to hold a child welfare agency vicariously liable for an alleged assault and battery by an employee who was terminated for forgery of the victim’s signature. We represented a foundation that provides child welfare services in Florida. The case manager was supposed to visit the child at his residence monthly and perform a home study for the non-custodial parent who was seeking reunification. He did not do so and forged the grandparents’ signatures on the documents. After the court entered an order allowing the mother unsupervised weekend visitation with the child, the case manager went to the grandmother’s house to inform her of the order and that the mother would be picking up the child. Mr. Plummer claimed he never saw the grandmother because she would not open the door. The grandmother—who was the plaintiff—claimed he raised his fist in a threatening manner and hit her in the forehead. She came to the client’s facility after the incident and complained of many things, but assault and battery was not one of them. During the investigation, it was revealed that the case manager had not made the home visits and did not perform the home study. He was terminated and later criminally charged with multiple counts of forgery and making false statements to the court. He fled to Georgia, was eventually extradited, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail. The plaintiff/grandmother sued the foundation for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery. We obtained summary judgment on all causes of action, and the order was affirmed on appeal, except the assault and battery charge, which went to trial.