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In Re D.D., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. Jill D

May 16, 2013


(Super. Ct. No. J-35787)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz , J.

In re D.D.



California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Jill D., mother of the now 10-year-old minor D.D., appeals from an order of the Butte County Juvenile Court adjudging the minor a dependent of the court and removing him from mother's custody. Mother contends the evidence is not sufficient to support either the jurisdictional finding or the removal order. We shall affirm.


Originating Circumstances

In the Spring of 2011, the Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services (the Department) received three referrals regarding D.D.*fn1 The first referral was received on March 20, 2011. The reporting party alleged that mother took D.D. to the "crisis unit" after consulting with the child's pediatrician and claimed D.D. had bipolar disorder. The crisis unit did not agree with mother's diagnosis and D.D. expressed fear of mother when she was not in the room. The referral was deemed "unfounded" for physical abuse and "inconclusive" for general neglect.

Two days later, the Department received a second referral, also alleging general neglect. The reporting party said mother "refused to accept the diagnosis that there was nothing wrong with her child," was "medication and diagnosis seeking," and gave the minor medication "even though clinicians and psychiatrists saw no evidence of reported behaviors." The reporting party further indicated mother had "slapped" D.D., and took D.D. to the emergency room "three or four times for heart palpitations." Before this referral was resolved, the Department received a third referral.

On April 1, 2011, the Department received a report that mother may suffer from Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, which put D.D. at risk. According to reports, mother claimed D.D. would become violent or manic and would "rage," putting himself and mother in jeopardy. No one other than mother, however, had witnessed these episodes.

The night before the Department received the April 1 referral, D.D. was taken to "Behavioral Health" to protect him from mother's behavior. D.D. was then admitted to the hospital by his physician, Dr. Amy Dolinar, so that she could wean him off all his medications under medical supervision. While he was hospitalized, Dr. Dolinar assessed D.D. as well as mother for Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome. Dr. Dolinar then wrote a letter to the Department expressing her concern for D.D.'s safety if left in mother's care: "I fear the possibility that she will hurt him or herself in order to 'prove' that he is violent." A petition alleging D.D. came within Welfare and Institutions Code section 300*fn2 was then filed.

The Petition and Detention

In its petition, the Department alleged mother failed to protect the minor. (§ 300, subd. (b).) To support that allegation, the Department further alleged that the minor said he "wished that he had a different mom," and he wished he could be "[section 5150'd]." The Department alleged the minor admitted to hitting mother and "calling her bad words," that mother ignored specific instructions not to visit the minor in the hospital, and mother told the minor "he was being taken away from her because he was a bad boy at home."

To support the allegation that mother failed to protect the minor, the Department alleged the following:

"b-2. Based on [mother's] reports of symptoms and behaviors the child has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional De[f]ian[t] Disorder, and non-specific cardiac arrhythmia by a series of physicians and prescribed at one time or another[:] Seroquel, Depakote, Abilify, Ativan, Concerta, Ritalin, Topamax, Lamictal, Clonidine, Tenex, and Intunive.

"b-3. On or about April 2, 2011, the child was admitted to Enloe Hospital to rapidly wean the child off all his medications while monitoring his heart, in order to determine the correct required medications.

"b-4. [Mother] has reported the child having severe allergies to a wide range of foods resulting in the child complaining of hunger due to his very limited diet. Allergy testing during his hospital stay revealed only allergies to egg whites, bananas and seasonal allergy to pollen.

"b-5. [Mother] has repeatedly reported she is fearful of the child due to his aggressive, 'raging' behaviors toward her.

"b-6. [Mother] refused services that potentially could have resulted in the child returning to the home in a safe environment.

"b-7. During the child's hospital stay, April 2, 2011, through April 8, 2011, he was noted to comply with staff requests and played with only a couple of minor incidents of hyperactivity where he was easily redirected.

"b-8. Various professionals including but not limited to school personnel, Behavioral Health, Police, Emergency Medical Technician staff, and Enloe ER staff who are involved with the child on a frequent basis have neither observed nor documented any out of control/ raging like behaviors as described by [mother].

"b-9. [Mother] has a history of moving the child from the care of one doctor to another and has changed the child's school several times.

"b-10. The child's father has not maintained a relationship with the child."

The Department further alleged the minor was suffering, or was at risk of suffering, "serious emotional damage[]" as a result of mother's conduct. (§ 300, subd. (c).) Specifically, the Department alleged the minor was "at risk of suffering serious emotional damage[] as evidenced by the child's statement . . . that he has told his mother he wished that he had a different mom, or that he could be [section 5150'd] and the child admitted to striking the mother with objects, kicking her and calling her bad words."

In addition, the Department alleged that "after being instructed to not return to the hospital[, mother] went to the hospital and told the child he was being taken away from her because he was a bad boy at home, she was [losing] her parental rights and he will possibly never see her again. This caused the child's heart rate to increase to 140 beats per minute resulting in the monitoring company calling the nurses['] station to ask what was going on to cause the rapid increase in the child's heart rate."

At the detention hearing on April 14, 2011, the juvenile court followed the Department's recommendation and detained D.D. The juvenile court ordered mother not to discuss food or medications with the minor. It was further ordered that mother submit to a psychiatric evaluation.


The jurisdictional hearing took place over three different days, and was determined based on written offers of proof ...

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