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Suit dismissed that said child was wrongfully taken

A federal lawsuit that accused state social workers of wrongfully removing a child from a Layton home has been dismissed by U.S. District Court for Utah Judge Dee Benson.

The ruling states that individual caseworkers cannot be held personally liable in child-removal situations if they are following state statute.

Connie Roska and her husband, James, filed a federal lawsuit in the summer of 1999, charging the state violated the couple's Fourth Amendment rights to unlawful search and seizure.

The Roska case was considered precedent-setting because it involved the state's rights to enter a private residence and goes to the heart of how the state views the role of parents in child-protection cases.

Connie Roska was not aware of the ruling at press time and declined comment.

Assistant Attorney General Dan Larsen said the ruling "is a good one and makes sense. These decisions are not made willy-nilly or on a hunch or a telephone call," Larson said. "In this case there was overwhelming evidence."

Abel Ortiz, director of child welfare projects for the Division of Child and Family Services, said the ruling provides continued protection for DCFS workers who make difficult decisions. "Without that type of immunity, it would our job impossible."

State statute attempts to balance child protection efforts with parental safeguards such as a shelter hearing within 72 hours of removal and appointment of parent counsel, he said. "Parents' rights need to be protected as well."