Case About Whether a Father Placed His Child at ''Imminent Risk of Serious Physical Abuse''

In E.D. v. Dep't. of Pub. Welfare, 719 A.2d 384 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998) the indicated report was based on a single act. An observer saw a five-year-old boy being pursued by his father. The child was wearing a protective helmet fastened to his head by a chinstrap. The child dropped to his knees and the father grabbed him by the helmet, his fingers inside the air holes, and then lifted the child, suspending him. The child's face was red, the observer heard gurgling noises and, subsequently, yelled out to the father. The father dropped the child and the incident was over in approximately three seconds. Thereafter, an indicated report of child abuse was filed. The father sought review of the Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Hearings and Appeals's (DPW) order denying his appeal from the filing of the indicated report. On appeal, the issue presented to us was whether the father placed the child at imminent risk of serious physical abuse. Because "imminent risk" was not defined by the Law, we utilized the DPW's proposed regulations in interpreting that term. The Court held that the father did not place his child in imminent risk of physical abuse because the report was based on this one act alone; there was no evidence that this one act would have caused severe pain to the child had the observer not cried out, nor was there evidence to suggest that the father would have suspended the child long enough to cause him physical injury. Further, there was no evidence to suggest that the father's past behavior or circumstances would have supported a finding that he would have caused the child severe injury. E.D., 719 A.2d at 389.