Sebesta v. Davis, No. 16-1355 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 2010, before her baby was born, Sebesta had both physical problems and a psychotic break. She had a history of mental illness. A hospital social worker harbored concerns about Sebesta’s ability to care properly for her newborn daughter and contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which conducted an investigation. Although DCFS employees pressured Sebesta to accept certain at-home services, they never removed Sebesta’s daughter from her custody. A year later, Sebesta brought suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state common law, accusing the medical and DCFS defendants of violating her federal substantive due process right to familial integrity, by their acts of reporting, investigating, and “indicating” her. She also claimed invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Neither the hospital worker nor the DCFS employees stepped over any constitutional line. They reasonably dealt with a sensitive situation in which they had to decide what would serve the child’s best interest.