Linda Doe’s daycare had not yet opened that morning, but one mom had dropped her kids off early. Ms. Doe’s own son was misbehaving and, believing “spare the rod, spoil the child,” went to strike him on the bottom with a belt. As she did this, her son unexpectedly turned and took the end of the belt in the face. Mortified and angry with herself, Ms. Doe apologized to her son, gave him big hugs, and sent him off to school.
The son’s teacher asked him how he had gotten the red mark on his face, and he responded that his mother, Ms. Doe, had hit him. Child protection found Ms. Doe guilty of “abuse,” and “maltreatment.
”Deborah Eckland represented Ms. Doe at a hearing before a DHS Appeals Judge. The Judge determined that no abuse or maltreatment had occurred because the injury was caused by an “accident.” The Commissioner refused to accept the Appeals Judge’s determination. He found that any sort of corporeal punishment that resulted in an injury was abuse and maltreatment.
Deborah appealed the case to Hennepin County District Court. The court determined the Commissioner was wrong, that the injury had been caused by accident, and was therefore not abuse or maltreatment.