APSAC Amicus Committee Files Brief in Smathers vs. Glass

On September 8, 2020, the APSAC Amicus Committee filed a brief in Smathers v. Glass. This jurisdictional memorandum argues that the Supreme Court of Ohio should accept the case for review, because child fatalities due to Intrafamilial Child Torture is an issue of great general importance. Also, holding Child Protective Services accountable for complying with their statutory mandates is an issue of great general importance.


In this case, 2-year-old Harmony Carsey died from intentional water deprivation, after her mother left her in a makeshift cage, tied down with an electrical cord, in an abnormally hot room, with no access to food or water, and completely alone in solitary confinement. At the time of her death, Harmony had an active case with Child Protective Services, and had just been discharged from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) after she nearly died from starvation, dehydration, and physical abuse at the hands of her mother. Although the hospital diagnosed her as a severely abused and neglected, and CPS was aware that she was regularly tied up in the cage, CPS allowed her to return to her mother’s care from the hospital, and mother resumed the torture and subsequently killed her. Paternal grandmother Ms. Smathers sued CPS on behalf of Harmony’s estate; the complaint lists numerous instances where CPS either failed to meet the standard of care, failed to comply with statutory requirements, and even falsified records.


In the pre-trial phase, defendant CPS filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the trial court dismiss the case entirely based on CPS’ claim that they are protected by the governmental immunity statute. Plaintiffs argued that CPS is not protected, because the statute explicitly states that government actors may be sued if they engaged in wanton, reckless, or bad faith actions. Plaintiffs submitted extensive documentary evidence and testimonial evidence (from deposition) that CPS engaged in wanton, reckless, and bad faith actions. However, the trial court granted CPS’ motion for summary judgment, and in their analysis they construed all of the evidence in favor of CPS, even making erroneous findings of fact. This was a significant error, as summary judgment analysis requires that the facts be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and that any finding of fact be put to a jury.


The plaintiffs appealed to Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals, which upheld summary judgment, relying on the analysis of the trial court.


In September, 2020, the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio, citing numerous errors made by both the trial court and appellate court, and the general importance of this case. Plaintiffs argued that if this fact pattern of CPS misconduct cannot survive summary judgment, then there will be no CPS misconduct that can survive summary judgement. Three organizations filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs- requesting that the Supreme Court of Ohio hear the case- the Ohio Association for Justice, Child USA, and APSAC. APSAC provided expert information to educate the Court on Intrafamilial Child Torture (torture of children, by their parents) and informed the court that this CPS agency committed some of the most egregious misconduct the experts at APSAC had ever seen, including falsifying records after Harmony was dead, to cover up other misconduct.


The pleadings in this case are available at:

https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Clerk/ecms/#/caseinfo/2020/1062

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