No. 2638 PHILADELPHIA, 1980, Appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, of Huntingdon County, No. 80-T-1 Juvenile.
Jeffrey Lee Ledbetter, Huntingdon, for appellant.
David Alan Ody, Huntingdon, for participating party.
Hester, Johnson and Popovich, JJ.
[ 315 Pa. Super. Page 513]
Appellant is the natural mother of the subject of these proceedings, Frank D., Jr., who was born on April 5, 1980. On September 25, 1980, Frank sustained a fractured humerus in his left arm. As a result of that injury, Frank was found to be an abused and dependent child within the meaning of the Child Protective Services Law, 11 P.S. § 2201 et seq., and the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6301 et seq. Frank was placed in the custody of Huntingdon County Children's Services (hereinafter referred to as Children's Services). It is from this Order that appellant files this appeal.
The following facts led to the above determination in the case at bar. Appellant, who was eighteen years old at the time, was separated from her husband, John J. Smith.*fn1 At the time of Frank's injury, appellant was living with Terry Smith.*fn2 On the day in question, Terry was baby-sitting the infant between 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. When appellant returned, she noticed that the child was fussing, but was not moving his left arm. The next day, she took Frank to his pediatrician, Dr. William Chase, who had been treating the child since birth. When x-rays revealed the fracture, Dr. Chase referred the child to Dr. Nicholas E. Mihelic, an orthopedic surgeon, and also contacted Children's Services. Mary Clippinger, a caseworker, conducted an investigation into the matter.
A detention hearing was held on September 30, 1980, pursuant to the requirements of 11 P.S. § 2208(c) and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6332(a). The caseworker testified that she interviewed all of the people who had been responsible for the
[ 315 Pa. Super. Page 514]
child during the time the injury occurred. The only explanation offered was that the child might have sustained the injury when he slipped off his mother's lap and through her legs as she disembarked from an automobile. Dr. Mihelic testified as to his opinion of this particular fracture:
"I do not have a good biomechanical explanation of the injury and from my knowledge of orthopedics and biomechanism and knowledge of children's orthopedics and the nature of the way children fracture, I have not yet heard a good explanation of a natural cause, i.e. fall or accidental cause of the injury. It is a suspicious fracture and in a suspicious area that would have to have a set of circumstances to explain it and I have not been able to ascertain a mechanism of injury that would explain this fracture by stories I have heard. I can't explain the mechanism of the injury. All I can infer is that it is direct trauma to the mid-shaft of the bone and the possibilities I think I have already outlined that I thought over in my mind that could have caused it. I have not been able to hear a story that matches what I know about the age of the child, the type of fracture itself, the location of the fracture and from my knowledge of forces applied to bones come up with an explanation of why an under year old child has a fracture in the diaphysis of a bone. It is transverse and broken completely through rather than splintered and, you know, without a story there had to be a great deal of force in my estimation to cause this. In order for a bone to break, and I can give you the figures, there is sometimes a force measurable to ten times body weight applied to a human area to break a bone and in a child it is a little bit different because bones give a little bit more. It may take even more force."
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge found the infant to be an abused child as defined by 11 P.S. § 2203,*fn3 and remanded the custody ...