may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Marc Watson Courey,
Ruth A. Zachariasen,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 965190
Filed June 17, 1997
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Raymond Tahnk-Johnson, Lawrence J. Hayes, Jr. & Associates, 2600 Eagan Woods Drive, Suite 360, Eagan, MN 55121 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
Appellant Marc Courey asserts that the district court erred in granting respondent Ruth Zachariasen's motion for summary judgment with regard to his claims for bad faith reporting and defamation according to Minn. Stat. § 626.556. These claims arise from respondent's reporting of suspected child abuse, which came to respondent's attention while acting as appellant's child care provider. Because we conclude that the record does not contain evidence of genuine issues of material fact that respondent acted in bad faith, we affirm.
A motion for summary judgment shall be granted when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. A material fact affects the result or outcome of the case depending on its resolution. Zappa v. Fehey, 310 Minn. 555, 556, 245 N.W.2d 258, 259-60 (1976).
According to Minn. Stat. § 626.556, subd. 3 (1) (1996), "[a] professional or professional's delegate who is engaged in the practice of * * * child care" is required to report any instances where he or she "believes or has reason to believe that a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused * * * ." In imposing this duty on child care providers the legislature also, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 626.556, subd. 4 (1), 1996 granted immunity from criminal or civil liability to "any person making a voluntary or mandated report under subdivision 3 * * *." The immunity applies, however, only if the reporter acts in "good faith." The statute also provides that criminal liability may result if a child care provider fails to file a report of suspected child abuse.
While caring for appellant's two-year-old daughter, respondent noticed evidence she attributed to child abuse. After respondent reported the incident to Hennepin County Child Protection, a criminal complaint was filed against appellant. This complaint was dismissed after a Rasmussen hearing. State ex rel. Rasmussen v. Tahash, 272 Minn. 539, 141 N.W.2d 3 (Minn. 1965).
Appellant filed a civil claim against respondent alleging, among other things, that respondent negligently reported the child abuse. The district court granted respondent's motion for summary judgment. In its order granting summary judgment, the district court reviewed and relied on the transcript of the Rasmussen hearing, finding:
10. There is no evidence that the defendant acted willfully or with malice while conducting her interview of the child
Appellant argues that summary judgment was improper because there is a genuine issue of material fact concerning respondent's good faith. In support of his argument, appellant challenges the manner in which respondent questioned the child together with using a visual aid to better understand the child's responses. We disagree with appellant's challenges.
The record reveals that respondent offered the transcript of the Rasmussen hearing and an affidavit in support of her motion for summary judgment. Appellant's counsel cross-examined respondent during the Rasmussen hearing. That record produced no evidence that respondent knowingly or recklessly made a false report of suspected child abuse. Minn. Stat. § 626.556, subd. 5. Appellant complains of the manner in which respondent questioned the child, and alleges that respondent had been herself a victim of abuse. Appellant's unsupported averments that do not present a genuine issue of material fact regarding bad-faith reporting. Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 583 (Minn. 1988).
Because appellant failed to show there is a genuine issue of material fact of bad faith reporting, the district court's grant of respondent's summary judgment motion is affirmed.
[ ]1Minn. Stat. § 626.556, subd. 6 (1996), states: A person mandated by this section to report who knows or has reason to believe that a child is neglected or physically or sexually abused, as defined in subdivision 2, * * * is guilty of a gross misdemeanor if the child suffers substantial or great bodily harm because of the lack of medical care.