Guardian Ad Litems, Social Workers Given Immunity for Efforts to Protect Individuals Lacking Decision-Making Capacity; Ruling Not Disturbed

Dalenko v. Wake County, N.C., Dep't of Human Servs., 578 S.E.2d 599 (N.C. Ct. App. 2003), cert. denied, 124 S. Ct. 1411 (2004)

Every state has a mechanism that enables a state or local agency to intervene to protect vulnerable individuals when the care they are receiving is deemed inadequate.  This protection is typically afforded children, elder persons, and adults who lack decision-making capacity.  Among the interventions this agency may pursue are periodically monitoring the care being provided, obtaining a protective order, removing the person from the custody of the current care giver, or initiating guardianship proceedings.  When guardianship proceedings are initiated, a guardian ad litem will often be appointed to insure the person at risk is represented and has a spokesperson in the proceedings.  The current care provider may contest the actions taken, assert they are unwarranted and improper, and file a lawsuit for damages that resulted.  The Court of Appeals of North Carolina has established that it will be rare in North Carolina that such cases can be successfully  pursued...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 1