Hearsay Supporting Child Abuse Report Seriously Controverted—Report Expunged
The Third Department determined a report maintained by the central register of child abuse and maltreatment should have been amended to state “unfounded” and expunged. Mother brought an Article 78 petition to amend the report, which stated abuse was “indicated.” The Third Department found that the hearsay evidence in support of the report was seriously controverted by the petitioner’s evidence, which included expert evidence about the cause of the child’s broken leg:
“To establish maltreatment, the agency was required to show by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the physical, mental or emotional condition of the child had been impaired or was in imminent danger of becoming impaired because of a failure by petitioner to exercise a minimum degree of care in providing the child with appropriate supervision or guardianship” … . As there is no dispute that the child suffered a broken leg, there can be no question that her physical condition was in fact impaired. Accordingly, our inquiry distills to whether the record supports a finding that such impairment was the result of petitioner’s failure to provide appropriate supervision and guardianship.
In this regard, the evidence against petitioner consisted primarily of the investigation progress notes, which summarized the caseworker’s interviews with, among others, petitioner’s son, the child’s treating orthopedic surgeon and the child’s geneticist. “[T]here is no question that hearsay is admissible in expungement hearings and, if sufficiently relevant and probative, may constitute substantial evidence to support the underlying determination” … . That said, the substantial evidence standard is not satisfied where, as here, the hearsay evidence at issue is “seriously controverted” … . Matter of Gwen Y. v New York State Off. of Children & Family Servs., 2015 NY Slip Op 07710, 3rd Dept 10-22-15