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  • Family Justice Resource Center

Child Abuse Pediatrician Ruled To Not Have Qualified Immunity in Federal Case

A recent update in a federal lawsuit against the child abuse pediatrician, hospital, and DCFS agents responsible for wrongfully separating the Krueger family for 467 days will open the door to more parents holding child abuse pediatricians accountable for their actions.

The Krueger v. Petrak case alleges that child abuse pediatrician, Dr. Channing Petrak, violated the family's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by knowingly causing their three sons to be removed from their home. Jacob and Patti Krueger were falsely accused of fabricating their middle son’s medical condition, despite the fact that he has genetically confirmed Xia-Gibbs Syndrome.

In a recent ruling, Judge Joe B. McDade of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois denied the Motion to Dismiss filed by Dr. Petrak, establishing that she does not have qualified immunity (a legal principle that protects state and local government officials from being sued for their actions in civil court). Historically, parents who have endured wrongful allegations have been told that they cannot file a lawsuit against the child abuse pediatrician because they are protected in their position as a state contractor; however, this new ruling clarifies that child abuse pediatricians do not have immunity when they knowingly take inappropriate actions to cause a child to be removed from the care of their innocent parents. Immunity does not apply in situations wherein agents violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights.

At the Family Justice Resource Center, we believe that loving parents should never have to endure an extended separation from their children due to a wrongful allegation of abuse. This ruling is significant because it sets the stage for future legal proceedings that will call for integrity in child abuse pediatrics and lead to child welfare policy reform.


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