In re Le.H., 2016 WL 3001283 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Both the parents and the Guardian ad litem Program filed petitions for a writ of certiorari to review an order sheltering one child but denying to shelter his siblings. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA), denied the parents’ petition but granted the GAL’s petition and quashed the portion of the order denying to shelter the siblings.

The Department became involved with the family after Mother brought Le.H., when he was two months old, to the hospital for a fever and congestion. A chest x-ray showed Le.H. had five fractured ribs at different stages of healing. Mother denied injuring Le.H. or knowing how he could have been injured. Le.H’s twin and 2 year old non-verbal sibling did not have any injuries. The three children had been in the care of Mother, Father and maternal grandmother. The Department requested shelter of all three children based upon the injuries to Le.H. The trial court ordered shelter of only Le.H. after finding no signed of physical abuse to the siblings and concluding there was no risk of potential harm.

The Second DCA found that the trial court failed to apply the proper probable cause standard in deciding whether to shelter the siblings after finding probable cause to shelter Le.H. Citing to the Department of Children and Family Services v. K.D., 88 So 3d 977 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012), the Second DCA found that the unexplained abuse of one child and the substantial risk to a sibling can warrant removal of both children. In both K.D. and the instant case, the siblings were identically situated and equally susceptible to the same abuse.

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