The Department of Human Services followed the law and made the right call when it withheld an investigative report from the family of a man mistreated by an employee at the Hunterdon Developmental Center, according to an appeals court ruling Tuesday.
The department gave Rosamund and Daniel Caliendo of Hampton a summary of the results from an investigation into whether an employee unlawfully restrained their son during a holiday party on Dec. 1, 2007. But the family wanted the name of the worker and details of the case.
Disability Rights New Jersey, a legal advocacy group, sued on the family's behalf to obtain the entire investigative record.
The Caliendos said they found their son, Damien, in his electric wheelchair facing a wall, with the chair's front wheels suspended in the air and the tray table jabbed into his stomach. The summary concluded the unidentified worker showed a "disregard for the client's right to unrestricted mobility" and would be forced to undergo additional retraining.
According to the ruling, the state Open Public Records Act does not permit the release of the unredacted investigative records. Citing an earlier decision, the appellate court wrote: "a record which contains or involves factual components is subject to the deliberative process privilege when it was used in the decision-making process and its disclosure would reveal the nature of the deliberations that occurred during that process."
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N.J. Appeals Court Rules Family not Entitled to Investigative Report Involving Son's Mistreatment