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Weston v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 5, 2015

BEATRICE WESTON
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al.
v.
INTERCULTURAL FAMILY SERVICES, INC

For BEATRICE WESTON, Plaintiff: SHANIN SPECTER, LEAD ATTORNEY, KLINE & SPECTER, P.C., PHILADELPHIA, PA; DOMINIC C. GUERRINI, KLINE & SPECTER, PC, PHILA, PA; TRACIE L. PALMER, KLINE & SPECTER PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, NEFERTITI SAVOY, RICHARD AMES, ESQUIRE, Defendants, ThirdParty Plaintiffs, Counter Defendants: MATTHEW K. HUBBARD, LEAD ATTORNEY, CITY OF PHILA. LAW DEPT, OFFICE OF THE CITY SOLICITOR, CIVIL RIGHTS UNIT, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For INTERCULTRUAL FAMILY SERVICES, INC., ThirdParty Defendant, Counter Claimant: JOSEPH J. SANTARONE, JR., MARSHALL DENNEHEY WARNER COLEMAN & GOGGIN, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 638

MEMORANDUM

R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 27) filed by Defendants, City of Philadelphia, Nefertiti Savoy, and Richard Ames, Esquire (collectively the " City Defendants" ). For the following reasons, the City Defendants' Motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

This case presents a sordid tale of abuse of an innocent child at the hands of her aunt. Beatrice Weston was born on December 9, 1991. She is the youngest of her mother Vicky Weston's five children. While raising her children, Vicky Weston had extensive contact with the City of Philadelphia, Department of Human Service (DHS) as a result of her mental status and her " severe difficulty carrying out the role of parent." (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mot. Exs. D - F, ECF No. 30.) On July 19, 2002, the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, Family Division, held a truancy hearing with regard to Beatrice's older brother. (Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 2, ECF No. 27-2.)[1] During the July 19, 2002 hearing, the court

Page 639

sua sponte ordered DHS to file a dependency petition on behalf of Beatrice. ( Id.) DHS complied with the court's order and thereafter initiated proceedings for Beatrice. ( Id. at ¶ 3.) A hearing on the DHS dependency petition was scheduled for August 16, 2002. ( Id. at ¶ 6.) On August 7, 2002, prior to the hearing, DHS case worker Nefertiti Savoy visited Vicky Weston's home for the purpose of confirming operational utilities and adequate resources. (Pl.'s Resp. 2.)

Beatrice, her mother Vicky, maternal aunt Linda Weston, and maternal cousin Jean McIntosh were all present at the August 16, 2002 hearing. (Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 7.) Also present at the hearing was Child Advocate Tara Wayt, Esquire, on behalf of Beatrice, city solicitor Rick Ames, Esquire, on behalf of DHS, and DHS case worker Savoy. ( Id. at ¶ 10.) Plaintiff contends that Savoy intended to recommend to the court that Beatrice remain at her mother's home, with Services to Children in their Own Home (SCOH) to be provided. After talking to Vicky and Linda Weston, Savoy recommended to the court that Beatrice go to live with her aunt, Linda Weston. (Pl.'s Resp. 2-3.) Relative to this recommendation, representations were made to the court as follows:

THE COURT: ...Where do I go from here? Now, I know Beatrice is truant. Now, she's out of that environment.
DHS SOCIAL WORKER: Well, Your Honor, mother had said that she would accept SCOH services, but today the aunt wants her to stay with her and go to Catholic school.
THE COURT: Now, do you guys live together?
MS. McINTOSH: We stick together.
THE COURT: You haven't left her side.
MS. McINTOSH: My mother has four children in the home. She has a four bedroom house. Their children go to Catholic school. We would like to put Beatrice in the same school where she would have attention and there will be no problem with --
MS. WATE: And Beatrice wants to stay with her aunt, right?
THE COURT: Do you want to live with your aunt for a while? You want to go to school with your cousins? What do you think?
DHS SOCIAL WORKER: Mother's in agreement, so.
. . .
THE COURT: I'm just looking to the family for direction here. I'm about Beatrice, I'm worried about Vicky.
. . .
THE COURT: Did we check out Linda Weston's home?
DHS SOCIAL WORKER: No.
MR. AMES: Because of that I think our recommendation would be to adjudicate dependent, temporary legal custody to Ms. Weston, supervision, DHS, SCOH.
. . .
THE COURT: This is what we'll do: I'm going to adjudge Beatrice dependent, I'm going to place temporary legal custody with Linda Weston.
. . .
THE COURT: SCOH level two shall be implemented, DHS to arrange for appropriate behavior and health evaluation. I'm going to bring this back. And, DHS, ...

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