On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Mercer County, Docket No. FN-11-0010-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, J. N. Harris, and Haas.
This is an appeal from a Title Nine*fn1 protective services proceeding. Defendant Martin D. appeals the November 20, 2008 order of the Family Part finding that he abused and neglected his two-month old biological daughter Chloe.*fn2 Martin does not appeal the court's March 3, 2011 order terminating litigation. We affirm.
Chloe was born in late May 2008. On July 25, 2008, the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division) received a referral from a New Brunswick hospital that Chloe was admitted to its pediatric intensive care unit for treatment of severe and unexplained injuries. Two days earlier, Chloe had been transported to an emergency room suffering cardiac arrest.
While in the pediatric intensive care unit Chloe experienced seizures and periods of not breathing. Once her condition stabilized, she was fully assessed. It was discovered that she suffered, among other things, multiple skull fractures; bilateral subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhaging, interventricular hemorrhaging; and multiple pre-retinal and intra-retinal hemorrhages.
The Division discovered that Chloe had been seen by a pediatrician on the morning of July 23, 2008, for a well visit. The physician reported from memory that the "child was doing fine and he had no concerns at that time. He did not observe any injuries to [Chloe] and no signs of distress."
Martin asserted that Chloe was not dropped or mistreated in any way. He attributed his daughter's injuries and medical condition to the immunization shot that she received on the morning of July 23, 2010, during the well visit.
On July 29, 2010, the Division filed this Title Nine action against Chloe's parents, after executing an emergency removal of Chloe and her two-year old sister a day earlier. A fact-finding hearing was conducted on November 20, 2010, at which time Martin -- who had just obtained a substitute attorney -- neither sought an adjournment nor objected to the matter proceeding. This assent stood in contrast to the request for an adjournment made by Chloe's mother Yvette.
The Division's investigator testified to the background of the Division's involvement, and produced the parties' statements and the child's hospital records. The evidence included Martin's admission that only he and Yvette cared for Chloe in the several days immediately prior to her being taken to the emergency room. No other witnesses testified at the hearing.
After considering the medical evidence together with the concession that Chloe's parents were her only caretakers, the Family ...