Little v. Division of Family Services

In Little v. Division of Family Services, 667 P.2d 49 (Utah 1983), parents whose autistic child died while in a foster home providing "specialized assistance" for autistic needs filed suit against the Division of Family Services "alleging that negligent conduct" in the placement and treatment of their daughter "culminated in her death." The Court held that the Division of Family Services, as a placement agency, could be held liable for its failure "to properly evaluate the foster home, its failure to supervise the child's placement and its failure to protect her from harm." Id. at 52. The Court held that this was a valid cause of action because "the risk that an autistic child would injure herself was great. The proven facts that the State knew that she was autistic or manifested autistic symptoms justified the imposition of a special duty." Id. at 55.