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In Re Jones

OPINION FILED APRIL 11, 1978.

IN RE LORENZO JONES, A MINOR. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

DOROTHY JONES, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. PETER F. COSTA, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BROWN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The respondent, Dorothy Jones, appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County finding that her son, Lorenzo Jones, was neglected pursuant to sections 2-4(1)(a) and 2-4(1)(b) of the Juvenile Court Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, pars. 702-4(1)(a), 702-4(1)(b).

The respondent raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court's finding of neglect as to proper or necessary care (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, par. 702-4(1)(a)) is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence; (2) whether the trial court's finding of neglect as to injurious environment (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, par. 702-4(1)(b)) is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence; and (3) whether the trial court committed prejudicial error when it attributed to the medical doctor a statement relative to the cause of injury which the doctor did not make.

A petition for adjudication of wardship was filed on November 13, 1975, alleging the child was neglected by reason that his environment was injurious to his own welfare. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, par. 702-4(1)(b).) The child was placed in the temporary custody of the guardianship administrator of the Department of Children and Family Services. At the subsequent temporary custody hearing, the trial court found that there was probable cause to establish that the child was neglected based on injurious environment, and temporary custody to the guardianship administrator was affirmed. The trial court ordered that the child be placed in a temporary shelter care facility.

Trial on the petition for adjudication of wardship was held on February 26, 1976. Prior to trial, the petition was amended to add a count which alleged that the child was neglected as to proper or necessary medical or other remedial care necessary for his well-being. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, par. 702-4(1)(a).

At trial, Dr. Cheng Lin testified that he first saw Lorenzo Jones on February 20, 1975, when he admitted the child to Ingalls Memorial Hospital for acute bronchitis and a "failure to thrive." He stated that the child, who had weighed approximately 9 pounds at birth, was only 11 pounds, 12 ounces at 7 months of age, when he was admitted to the hospital. He considered this to be underweight, stating that a baby normally doubles its weight by the age of 3 or 5 months. He testified that a series of laboratory tests was performed and no organic cause was found for the failure to thrive. He testified that he did not think that the acute bronchitis nor the sickle cell trait could have caused Lorenzo's lack of weight gain, and that Lorenzo weighed 12 pounds, 6 ounces when he was discharged on February 26, 1975. Dr. Lin testified that he was led to the belief of inappropriate feeding by the mother since he couldn't find any evidence of organic disease and since the child gained proper weight during this one week hospitalization.

Dr. Lin testified that the emergency room references he had received stated that the child was brought to the emergency room of Ingalls Memorial Hospital on September 24, 1975, because of burns on both feet, and that Lorenzo was referred to him for further treatment. He stated that his nurse called the parents on September 25 or 26, 1975. He testified that he examined Lorenzo at his office on September 27, 1975, and the child had first and second degree burns from the ankle joint down to both feet. He described the burns as follows: "The burns — lesions was [sic] symmetric on both sides of the feet below both ankle joints all the way down to both feet." He found that the burns were infected, in that there was pus discharge from the burn lesions, and there was a pus discharge on the top of the dressing, which appeared to him to be the one that was put on in the emergency room. Lorenzo was then admitted to Ingalls Memorial Hospital, and discharged "around" October 25 or 26, 1975. Dr. Lin testified that Lorenzo was given antibiotics for the infection, physical therapy in the form of whirlpools and exercise to prevent scar formation. He stated that Lorenzo underwent a skin graft on his left foot on October 15, 1975. He testified that the mother saw Dr. San Jose, the surgeon, a week after October 23, 1975, for the follow-up of the burns and the skin graft.

Dr. Lin testified that on or about November 7, 1975, Lorenzo was readmitted to Ingalls Memorial Hospital, suffering from acute bronchitis and gastro-enteritis (diarrhea), and the burn lesions were healing. Dr. Lin reported the case to the social service worker at the hospital who contacted the Department of Children and Family Services.

On cross-examination, Dr. Lin testified that Lorenzo weighed 18 pounds, 9 1/2 ounces on September 27, 1975, and his health was in good condition, besides the burns on the legs.

Arthur Edelhart, staff development coordinator for Emergency Protective Services, Department of Children and Family Services, testified that he saw Lorenzo in Ingalls Memorial Hospital and visited Dorothy Jones at home on November 11, 1975. He stated that the Department of Children and Family Services had received two reports from Ingalls Memorial Hospital, one relating to the September 1975 hospitalization, and the other relating to the November 1975 hospitalization.

Edelhart testified that Dorothy Jones told him that Lorenzo's "failure to thrive" was due to sickle cell anemia, and he replied, having checked Lorenzo's medical records, that Lorenzo had sickle cell trait.

Edelhart testified that Dorothy Jones had told him that she had been preparing to wash her kitchen floor and filled a pail with hot water from the bathtub and left it on the kitchen floor; that her four-year old threw a basketball at the pail which knocked the pail over and the water in it spilled on Lorenzo. He stated that she told him that she was in the bathroom when it happened, and heard it happen. He stated that she showed him a yellow, 2 1/2-gallon pail, and told him that it was the one that was filled with hot water. He testified that he told her that he did not see how the injuries could have occurred as she described, since burn patterns from splashing water would be irregular, and it was his opinion that since the burn patterns were "straight line" across Lorenzo's feet, it seemed more likely to him that Lorenzo was emersed in standing water rather than having had water flowing and spilling over him. He stated that she said she did not bring Lorenzo back to the hospital to have his bandages changed because it was too cold to go outside with him and that it was her understanding that a visiting nurse would come to her home to change the bandages.

Sharon Billinger, a social worker with the Department of Children and Family Services, testified that she visited Dorothy Jones in her apartment on November 25, 1975. She stated that Dorothy Jones told her that she filled a garbage can with hot water to clean it, placed it on the kitchen table, and while she was in the bathroom, her older son somehow hit a basketball inside the garbage can which knocked it over. Billinger testified that Dorothy Jones showed her a two-feet-tall, white bucket, and stated that she told her she did not show Edelhart this bucket because it was dirty. Billinger testified that Dorothy Jones told her that Lorenzo's bandages had gone unchanged because the doctor at the hospital had told her a nurse would be sent out to change the bandages and that he had been malnourished because of the sickle cell trait.

Dorothy Jones testified that Lorenzo was born on July 19, 1974. She stated that Lorenzo was holding onto a kitchen table chair and Johnnie, her oldest child, was playing with a basketball when she went into the bathroom; that she had been in the bathroom "about two minutes" when she heard a noise and heard Lorenzo holler; that the ball went in the kitchen and hit a garbage pail she was washing and ...


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