Judge tosses DHS lawsuit
By Dwayne Bremer
Mar 17, 2017, 18:04
A federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit against the state Department of Human Services that was filed by a local resident in 2016.
The suit, Marie Gill versus MDHS, which is now MCPS (Child Protective Services) and two of its employees was filed in 2015.
Federal Judge Sul Ozerden granted a motion by the state to dismiss the case.
In 2016, MDHS split duties between two departments. MDHS now handles all economic assistance programs, while CPS handles child custody issues.
According to the order, Ozerden said that the state agency enjoys "sovereign immunity" and its employees enjoy "qualified immunity."
In similar cases recently such as claims of abuse against law enforcement agencies, federal judges have opined that there must be intentional malice to go along with certain claims.
Gill filed the suit in December 2015, a few months after she had her children taken into DHS custody. She had claimed the agency tried to "steal her children" from her.
Gill's case sparked an investigation by the Hancock County Sheriff's Office after it was revealed that a DHS case worker forged and/or altered documents after Gill had signed them.
The DHS case worker no longer works for the agency. The criminal investigation is still pending, officials said.
Gill's case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought up again.
There are several other lawsuits pending against DHS, with at least one of them filed by a Hancock County resident.
"I am very pleased with the ruling of the Court,” Dr. David Chandler, commissioner of MS Dept of Child Protection Services, said in a statement issued Friday. I appreciate the hard work of the lawyers representing the agency and firmly believe the proper outcome was reached."