The First Department determined the child abuse allegations against mother and grandmother (respondents) were supported by a preponderance of the evidence. It was not necessary to prove which of them abused the child (Syriah):
The evidence submitted on petitioner’s direct case supports the court’s finding that respondents abused Syriah by showing that, while she was in their care, Syriah suffered an injury that would not ordinarily occur absent an act or omission of the person responsible for her care … .”[Petitioner] was not required to establish whether the mother or the [grandmother] actually inflicted the injuries, or whether they did so together”… .
A preponderance of the evidence supports the court’s conclusion that Syriah’s injuries were inflicted and not accidentally caused. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, which resulted in anoxic ischemic encephalopathy and subdural hematoma, from which she died. Doctor Cahill, a pediatrician qualified as an expert in child abuse pediatrics, opined to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Syriah’s injuries were the result of a shaking event. Among other things, Syriah had no skull fracture, and, as one expert testified, without a skull fracture, the most likely explanation for subdural hemorrhage and anoxic change is vigorous shaking.
Respondents failed to demonstrate that Syriah’s injuries “could reasonably have occurred accidentally” so as to rebut petitioner’s prima facie showing of abuse … . The testimony of petitioner’s experts ruled out the possibility that the injuries were caused, as respondents contend, by a short fall from a mattress to the floor. Indeed, respondents’ own experts testified that it would be “unusual” and “extremely rare” for a child to suffer the injuries that Syriah suffered from a short fall. Matter of Syriah J. (Esther J.), 2017 NY Slip Op 06048, First Dept 8-8-17
FAMILY LAW (CHILD ABUSE, EVIDENCE, CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS SUPPORTED BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE, NO NEED TO DEMONSTRATE WHICH OF THE TWO RESPONDENTS ABUSED THE CHILD (FIRST DEPT))/EVIDENCE (FAMILY LAW, CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS SUPPORTED BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE, NO NEED TO DEMONSTRATE WHICH OF THE TWO RESPONDENTS ABUSED THE CHILD (FIRST DEPT))/CHILD ABUSE (FAMILY LAW, EVIDENCE, CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS SUPPORTED BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE, NO NEED TO DEMONSTRATE WHICH OF THE TWO RESPONDENTS ABUSED THE CHILD (FIRST DEPT))