Sunday, December 8, 2013

In re Lisa Diane G. case brief

In re Lisa Diane G. case brief summary
537 A.2d 131 (1988)

Plaintiff adoptive parents sought review of an order of the Family Court (Rhode Island), which denied their complaint to nullify an adoption decree of an eight-year-old girl on the ground that representatives of defendant Department of Children and Their Families (DCF) failed to inform of the girl's behavioral problems.

The parents adopted a child who had behavioral problems that were not disclosed to them. The parents claimed that DCF never informed them that the staff at a psychiatric hospital advised that the girl should not have been placed for adoption. The gist of the parents' complaint was that the adoption decree was procured by the fraudulent conduct or misrepresentations of certain representatives of the DCF. The parents sought nullification of the adoption decree and compensation for the expenses they incurred in caring for the child. An order was entered denying the parents' complaint for a lack of jurisdiction.


  • On appeal, the court held that the family court was the appropriate forum to consider and adjudicate the adoptive parents' claim because of its exclusive jurisdiction in the subject matter of adoption. 
  • The court observed that if a fraud was perpetrated upon the adoptive parents, it was also perpetrated upon the court. 
  • The court concluded that any determination of the would have involved a consideration of the child's best interest, but that this consideration had to be balanced against the harm suffered by the adoptive parents as a result of the alleged conduct of DCF.
The court sustained the appeal, vacated the dismissal order, and remanded the case for a trial and adjudication of the claim.

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