United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. Gerrard, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the motion to dismiss
(filing 264) filed by Nebraska Families
Collaborative (NFC) and Daniel Little, Deanna
"Nina" Sheller, Sara Smith, Evan Winans, Melissa
Nance, Nicole Paul, Anna Richardson, David Newell, Anne
Petzel, and Jennifer Richey (collectively, the NFC
Defendants). The Court will grant that motion in part and
deny it in part.
plaintiff, Catherine Yang Wang Anderson (Wang Anderson) is
the mother of two girls, X.C.W. and Y.C.W. Filing 154 at 2.
Wang Anderson's husband, Bo Wang (Wang) is their father.
Filing 154 at 2. X.C.W. was a minor when this case was filed,
and Wang Anderson sued both in her own capacity and as
"next friend" of X.C.W. Filing 154 at 2.
a nonprofit corporation that Wang Anderson alleges "had
a contract with [the Nebraska Department of Health and Human
Services (NDHHS)] to provide case management and an
individualized system of care for families and their children
and youth who are wards of NDHHS involved in the Child
Welfare or Juvenile Court System." Filing 154 at 7.
Newell was the chief executive officer of NFC. Filing 154 at
6. Sheller, Smith, Winans, Little, Nance, Richardson, Paul,
Petzel, and Richey were all employed by NFC in one capacity
or another, such as family engagement specialist, family
permanency specialist, family permanency specialist
supervisor, or family permanency director. Filing 154 at
generally, Wang Anderson alleges that X.C.W. was unlawfully
made a ward of the State of Nebraska and held by the State
against her will. Filing 154 at 2. But it was Y.C.W. who
first drew the attention of authorities. According to Wang
Anderson, Y.C.W. had an "inappropriate" personal
relationship with a teacher at her high school because Y.C.W.
was permitted and encouraged to confide in him about personal
problems. Filing 154 at 24-28. According to the teacher,
Y.C.W. told him she had sexual identity issues. Filing 154 at
35. Wang Anderson blames Y.C.W.'s friendship with her
teacher for a "breakdown" in her own relationship
with Y.C.W., who reported to school officials on October 8,
2013 that Wang Anderson had threatened her. Filing 154 at 28.
on Y.C.W.'s report that she didn't feel safe going
home, sheriff's officers removed Y.C.W. from Wang
Anderson's residence and took her to Project Harmony for
a temporary foster placement. Filing 154 at 33. One of the
sheriff's deputies observed that when Wang Anderson
answered the door, she was wearing a rubber glove, and
suspected that Wang Anderson might be mentally ill. Filing
154 at 29-31. Investigators from the NDHHS went to Wang
Anderson's residence that evening, and reported hazardous
conditions. Filing 154 at 35. So, after X.C.W. went to school
the next day, she was also placed in the temporary custody of
NDHHS. Filing 154 at 36. Wang Anderson alleges, however, that
X.C.W. told Sheller that she felt safe with her mother and
wanted to go home. Filing 154 at 43.
and Y.C.W. were placed with the same foster parent, and both
girls were evaluated at Project Harmony. Filing 154 at 34,
37, 43. A juvenile proceeding was initiated in the Separate
Juvenile Court of Douglas County, Nebraska. Filing 154 at 44.
The petition alleged-Wang Anderson says wrongly-that X.C.W.
and Y.C.W. had been subjected to inappropriate discipline,
not provided with safe housing, deprived of proper parental
care and support, and that Wang Anderson had been seen acting
in a manner consistent with untreated mental health needs.
Filing 154 at 44-45. An ex parte juvenile court order placed
the girls in the temporary custody of NDHHS, then after a
hearing, the juvenile court continued NDHHS's temporary
custody. Filing 154 at 45-46.
Anderson claims that both girls began to show signs of
"mental, emotional and physical distress" that went
unnoted and untreated, by NFC, Smith, and Winans among
others. Filing 154 at 48-49; see Filing 154 at 65.
Both girls were diagnosed with mental health disorders; Wang
Anderson claims the diagnoses were inaccurate. Filing 154 at
52. She also alleges, as a basis for liability, that the
girls' mental health providers did not encourage them to
communicate with her, and that both girls were told they had
a right to refuse contact with her. Filing 154 at 53. As a
general matter, Wang Anderson complains about the failure to
provide or facilitate visitation or family therapy throughout
the pendency of the juvenile proceeding, and accuses several
of the NFC Defendants, among others, of being responsible for
that. Filing 154 at 41-42, 47, 62-64, 70-75, 81, 86-88, 94.
As a corollary, she also alleges that several of the NFC
Defendants failed to promote family reunification to the
girls' therapists as a goal of therapy. Filing 154 at 42.
was sent to a program for treating eating disorders. Filing
154 at 54. She was partially hospitalized-her time was split
between the hospital and her foster home. Filing 154 at
54-55. On the suggestion of the girls' therapists, NDHHS
recommended to the juvenile court that all parental
visitation be therapeutic, and the juvenile court agreed.
Filing 154 at 57. But visitation between Wang Anderson and
Y.C.W. was suspended. Filing 154 at 57. Wang Anderson alleges
that Y.C.W.'s therapists approved "certain ways of
life, behaviors or actions that were inappropriate, morally
corruptive, harmful and detrimental. . . ." Filing 154
January 28, 2014, the Douglas County Attorney petitioned the
juvenile court to terminate Wang and Wang Anderson's
parental rights. Filing 154 at 75. The juvenile court
dismissed the termination petitions, but the girls were
adjudicated as being juveniles within the meaning of Neb.
Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3). Filing 154 at 81. And
visitation was ordered. Filing 154 at 82.
X.C.W. had been held out of school during her eating disorder
program. Filing 154 at 60. Wang Anderson blames NFC, Smith,
and Winans, among others, for harming X.C.W.'s education.
Filing 154 at 60-61, 80. But her medical condition had
deteriorated, and more intensive treatment was recommended.
Filing 154 at 68. Wang Anderson alleges that several of the
NFC Defendants were responsible for not properly coordinating
or arranging for X.C.W.'s health care services. Filing
154 at 68-69. X.C.W. was placed at the Laureate Psychiatric
Clinic and Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Filing 154 at 73.
Anderson alleges that her contact with X.C.W. at Laureate was
frustrated by the failure of several of the NFC Defendants to
provide Laureate with a juvenile court order providing for
visitation and family therapy. Filing 154 at 74. She also
alleges that NFC, Winans, and Smith failed to provide
Laureate with accurate or complete information about her.
Filing 154 at 76. And she alleges that X.C.W.'s therapist
at Laureate thought X.C.W. should have contact with her
parents, but Smith never arranged for it or told the juvenile
court. Filing 154 at 79.
X.C.W. was discharged from Laureate and put into a new foster
placement, and she continued treatment for her eating
disorder at Children's Hospital in Omaha. Filing 154 at
83-84, 86. Sometimes, X.C.W.'s foster parents were unable
to take her to Children's, so transportation was provided
by Camelot Transportation. Filing 154 at 89. She rode with
other passengers, some adult men. Filing 154 at 89. According
to Wang Anderson, X.C.W. was "lured, sexually abused and
sexually exploited" by another passenger. Filing 154 at
90. Or, to be more specific, a juvenile court filing
indicates that the two had exchanged telephone numbers and
texted one another, and eventually X.C.W. sent him a nude
picture of herself and expressed romantic feelings toward
him. Filing 154 at 90. Wang Anderson blames NFC, Richardson,
Paul, and Little for not permitting Wang Anderson to arrange
for X.C.W.'s transportation, not properly supervising
X.C.W., and for allowing X.C.W. to have a phone. Filing 154
at 89-90, 105. And she blames NFC, Richardson, and Paul for
failing to have the incident investigated or prevent future
contact between X.C.W. and the man. Filing 154 at 105.
anorexia relapsed, and she was again hospitalized. Filing 154
at 91-92. X.C.W. blames several of the NFC Defendants for not
acting to provide X.C.W. with proper care. Filing 154 at
91-92. In November 2014, she was placed at Remuda Ranch, a
treatment facility in Arizona. Filing 154 at 94. Wang
Anderson alleges that at Remuda Ranch-and generally
throughout X.C.W.'s mental health treatment-X.C.W.'s
care providers didn't appropriately include X.C.W.'s
family in her therapy. Filing 154 at 96, 106. She blames NFC,
Little, Richardson, and Paul for allegedly refusing to comply
with the juvenile court's visitation order or arrange for
visitation. Filing 154 at 95. In particular, she alleges that
Richardson lied to counsel in the juvenile court proceeding
in an email indicating that X.C.W. didn't want to make a
telephone call to her parents. Filing 154 at 96. Eventually,
visitation was cut off, allegedly in retaliation for Wang
Anderson's efforts to contact X.C.W. and participate in
her treatment. Filing 154 at 99.
juvenile court also ordered that school records and
information should be provided to Wang Anderson and Wang only
through a family permanency specialist-essentially,
preventing Wang Anderson from communicating with school
personnel. Filing 154 at 92. And the juvenile court ordered
Wang Anderson to communicate with all the girls' service
providers, including the family permanency specialist, only
through counsel or her guardian ad litem. Filing 154 at 92.
Wang Anderson claims that order violated her First Amendment
rights-but, she also alleges that the order wouldn't have
been entered had the NFC Defendants arranged necessary
services and provided her with information in the first
place. Filing 154 at 93.
discharge from Remuda Ranch, X.C.W. was returned to her
previous foster placement. Filing 154 at 102. She was not,
over Wang Anderson's objection, placed with her Chinese
relatives, despite statutory and regulatory provisions Wang
Anderson says should have preferred such a placement. Filing
154 at 100. Wang Anderson accuses the NFC defendants of
breaking those rules and discriminating against them for
being Chinese. Filing 154 at 83, 100; see Filing 154
X.C.W. was permitted to attend a Project Everlast meeting at
which, Wang Anderson alleges, X.C.W. was again "lured
and sexually assaulted or sexually exploited by an unknown
adult male during and after the lunch hour." Filing 154
at 108-09. Wang Anderson blames NFC, Little, Richardson, and
Paul for allowing X.C.W. to attend the meeting, allegedly
without providing for an "appropriate safety plan."
Filing 154 at 108-09. Wang Anderson says the incident
wasn't discovered for a week, and alleges that X.C.W. was
injured, but no treatment was provided, and no law
enforcement investigation was initiated, by NFC, Richardson,
and Paul among others. Filing 154 at 109-10. Wang Anderson
claims the incident wasn't discovered because NFC,
Richardson, and Paul weren't monitoring X.C.W.'s text
messages. Filing 154 at 109. Wang Anderson generally accuses
X.C.W.'s foster parents of being incompetent, and alleges
that several of the NFC Defendants knew that but arranged for
X.C.W.'s placement with them anyway. Filing 154 at 85-86,
91, 102-03, 113.
in June 2015, Wang Anderson was permitted to participate in
family therapy, but she was excluded again after she
"tried to address the pertinent and urgent topic of sex
trafficking with X.C.W." Filing 154 at 113. Wang
Anderson alleges that she was "interrupted and cut
off" because NFC, Richardson, and Paul failed to
appropriately address the "critical incident" Wang
Anderson says occurred. Filing 154 at 111. Specifically, Wang
Anderson alleges that she brought up "the seriousness
and life-threatening consequences of being sexually abused
and sexually trafficked with X.C.W. during a family therapy
session, to try to educate and protect her." Filing 154
at 119. But the therapist asked Wang Anderson to leave, Wang
Anderson alleges, instead of "assist[ing] Wang Anderson
in discussing this important and germane topic with
X.C.W." Filing 154 at 119. Then, Wang Anderson alleges,
the therapist "departed from the therapeutic standard of
care" by, allegedly, making "suggestions to X.C.W.
regarding how to safely or legally engage in prostitution,
shortly after X.C.W. had been sold ...