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Wang Anderson v. State

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

October 17, 2018

THE STATE OF NEBRASKA, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion for judgment on the pleadings (filing 488) filed by Reliable Rock Counseling and Consulting, P.C., Amanda Gurock, Komi Amededji, and Judy McAuliffe-Treinen (collectively, the Reliable Rock defendants). Their motion will be granted.


         The 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. Reliable Rock is a Nebraska corporation that provides therapy services. Filing 154 at 14. Gurock, Amededji, and McAuliffe-Treinen are all mental health practitioners who allegedly provided therapeutic services to X.C.W. or Y.C.W. on behalf of Reliable Rock. Filing 154 at 13-14; filing 189 at 1-2.

         Very 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.

         Based 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 Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) 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 DHHS. Filing 154 at 36. X.C.W. 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 DHHS, then after a hearing, the juvenile court continued DHHS's temporary custody. Filing 154 at 45-46.

         Wang Anderson claims that both girls began to show signs of "mental, emotional and physical distress" that went unnoted and untreated. Filing 154 at 48-49. Wang Anderson blames Reliable Rock, McAuliffe-Treinen, and Gurock, among others. Filing 154 at 48-49. Both girls were diagnosed with mental health disorders; Wang Anderson claims the diagnoses-made by Reliable Rock, McAuliffe-Treinen, and Gurock-were inaccurate. Filing 154 at 52. Wang Anderson also alleges, as a basis for liability, that Reliable Rock, McAuliffe-Treinen, and Gurock did not recommend family therapy, did not encourage the girls to communicate with her, and told them they had a right to refuse contact with her. Filing 154 at 53, 64, 81, 88.

         Specifically, Wang Anderson alleges that the Reliable Rock defendants provided therapeutic services to Y.C.W. between October 8, 2013 and March 31, 2015. Filing 154 at 50. And Wang Anderson alleges that Reliable Rock, Gurock, and McAuliffe-Treinen "attempted to provide therapeutic services to X.C.W. between October 8, 2013 and March 31, 2015, but she declined to accept those services." Filing 154 at 50. Reliable Rock assigned McAuliffe-Treinen to be the therapist for both girls, supervised by Gurock, but Wang Anderson claims X.C.W. and Y.C.W. should have been assigned separate therapists. Filing 154 at 50. She also alleges, generally described, that Reliable Rock, McAuliffe-Treinen, and Gurock included inaccurate or false statements in the reports they prepared after evaluating the girls. Filing 154 at 51-52, 57.

         X.C.W. was eventually 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. Based on suggestions from Reliable Rock, McAuliffe-Treinen, and Gurock, DHHS recommended to the juvenile court that all parental visitation be therapeutic, and the court agreed. Filing 154 at 57, 64. But visitation between Wang Anderson and Y.C.W. was suspended. Filing 154 at 57. Wang Anderson alleges that McAuliffe-Treinen testified in juvenile court on at least one occasion that Wang Anderson's parental rights to Y.C.W. should be terminated, and generally "gave false and defamatory testimony regarding Wang Anderson" in juvenile court. Filing 154 at 58, 81. Wang Anderson also alleges Reliable Rock, Gurock, and McAuliffe-Treinen approved "certain ways of life, behaviors or actions that were inappropriate, morally corruptive, harmful and detrimental. . . ." Filing 154 at 58.

         On 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 finally adjudicated as being juveniles within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3). Filing 154 at 81. Visitation was ordered. Filing 154 at 82.

         Meanwhile, X.C.W. had been held out of school during her eating disorder program. Filing 154 at 60. Her condition had deteriorated and more intensive treatment was recommended. Filing 154 at 68. She was placed in an inpatient facility in Oklahoma. Filing 154 at 73. Eventually, she was discharged and put into a new foster placement, and continued treatment for her eating disorder at Children's Hospital in Omaha. Filing 154 at 83-84, 86. But her anorexia later relapsed, and she was again hospitalized. Filing 154 at 91-92. In November 2014, she was placed at a treatment facility in Arizona. Filing 154 at 94. Wang Anderson alleges that while in Arizona-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. 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.

         Y.C.W.'s activities during this period are less clear, but Wang Anderson does allege that Gurock assigned Amededji to be Y.C.W.'s therapist, and that Amededji interfered with communications between Y.C.W. and Wang Anderson. Filing 154 at 72. McAuliffe-Treinen, Wang Anderson alleges, stopped providing therapy to Y.C.W. because of unspecified "boundary issues." Filing 154 at 81. According to Wang Anderson, McAuliffe-Treinen "failed to maintain a proper professional relationship with Y.C.W. and failed to document in her discharge summary that these 'boundary issues' were a cause for discharge." Filing 154 at 81.

         After discharge from inpatient treatment, X.C.W. was returned to her previous foster placement. Filing 154 at 102. Wang Anderson alleges that in February and March of 2015, Reliable Rock and Gurock provided "therapeutic visitation" to Wang Anderson and X.C.W. Filing 154 at 103. But, Wang Anderson says, the visitation order in place at that point wasn't limited to therapeutic visitation-so, she claims, Reliable Rock and Gurock deliberately interfered with her parental relationship with X.C.W. Filing 154 at 103. She also ...

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