QUALIFIED IMMUNITY: Jones v. Wang (U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 12-55995)
CMA, along with other amici, filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Dr. Wang to seek full court reconsideration of a Ninth Circuit published opinion that may have a chilling effect on the detection and reporting of child abuse. In this case, the plaintiffs, parents of an infant child, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Wang for federal civil rights and tort violations for allegedly “seizing” the child at the hospital while she investigated potential child abuse after the child suffered a fractured skull and fractured ribs.
A divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that Dr. Wang was not entitled to qualified immunity because, when viewed in the light favorable to the plaintiffs, the parents presented sufficient facts to suggest Dr. Wang’s actions violated their federal civil rights. CMA’s brief argued that the Ninth Circuit’s opinion undermines best practices and medical ethics in child abuse cases and will have a chilling effect on the reporting of child abuse cases.
On January 19, 2018, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its previous decision and held that Dr. Wang was entitled to qualified immunity from all federal claims against her and all state claims except for the false imprisonment claim. Dr. Wang filed a petition before the Ninth Circuit as to the remaining false imprisonment claim. CMA joined other amici to file an additional amicus brief in support of Dr. Wang on March 29. While the Ninth Circuit denied Dr. Wang’s petition for rehearing, in October 2018, the district court dismissed the remaining claims against Dr. Wang with prejudice.