Torts Keyed to Dobbs
Vaughn v. Ruoff
Plaintiffs Margaret and Kevin Vaughn are married with children and Margaret has been diagnosed as mildly retarded. In August 1993 they gave birth to their first child, Leta. In October 1993, the Missouri Division of Family Services (MDFS) took custody of Leta, finding that the Vaughns failed to maintain a sanitary home and could not demonstrate an ability to rear her properly. In August 1994, Margaret gave birth to their second child Kevin Jr. but the MDFS took custody of him one week after his birth, again finding unsanitary home conditions and an inability to rear him properly. The same day as Kevin Jr.’s birth, Ruoff, the MDFS social worker who was assigned to the Vaughn’s case, told Margaret that if she got her tubes tied she would have her kids back in two to three weeks. Margaret agreed and her tubal ligation procedure occurred in October 1994. However, in December 1994, MDFS informed the Vaughns that it would recommend termination of their parental rights to Leta and Kevin Jr. They sued Ruoff for fourteenth amendment violations. Ruoff argued that she was entitled to qualified immunity, a theory that was rejected by the trial court. The Vaughns won summary judgment and the court of appeals affirmed.
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