B.H. v. County of San BernardinoAnnotate this Case
A private citizen called a 911 operator to report an incident of suspected child abuse during the child’s visit with his father. A deputy sheriff, who was dispatched to investigate the report, determined that the child was not a victim of child abuse. Neither the officer nor the Sheriff’s Department cross-reported the initial 911 report to the child welfare agency. Less than four weeks later, the child suffered extensive head injuries during a visit with his father. The child, through a guardian ad litem, sued the county and the deputy sheriff for failing to cross-report the initial child abuse allegations to the county child welfare agency, in violation of the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the Sheriff’s Department had a mandatory and ministerial duty to cross-report the child abuse allegations made to the 911 operator to the child welfare agency, and the failure to cross-report can support a finding of breach of a mandatory duty; but (2) the officer had no duty to report the child abuse allegations and her investigative findings to the child welfare agency.