In re A.W.J., 143 So. 3d 1109 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2014)

Both Mother and Father separately appealed an order adjudicating their child dependent based on physical abuse. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) reversed the adjudication order.

Father testified that he placed his 6 month old child in a Bumbo chair and went in the kitchen. Mother was not at home. While Father was in the kitchen, the child pushed the chair over backwards and hit his head on the concrete floor. Father contacted Mother, who returned with the car seat and they took the child to the hospital. Both the detective who investigated the matter and the child’s pediatrician testified that the parents’ story was consistent with their respective investigations. Neither witness had concern that the child’s injuries were caused by abuse. Only one doctor testified that the child’s injury was the result of abuse. She based her opinion primarily on her assessment of the parents’ credibility rather than medical evidence.

The Second DCA found the doctor’s testimony did not meet the competent substantial evidence standard as her testimony was not substantiated by other evidence and that her opinion was not offered within a reasonable degree of medical probability as to the mechanisms of injury. Additionally, with regard to the Mother, the Second DCA found that the department failed to introduce any evidence that mother caused injury to the child.

The Second DCA reversed the order.

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