Fraud & Malpractice Suit Hits Connecticut Family Court Psychologist

July 6, 2021 | Enfield, Connecticut

Dr. Jennifer Bevin Caverly

Dr. Jennifer Bevin Caverly the psychologist who provided expert testimony in a Connecticut family court dispute, has been sued for fraud and malpractice by the mother who lost custody of her children in the case.

The plaintiff, Karen Riorden, is the wife and mother involved in the divorce from her husband, Christopher Ambrose. The case was heard before Connecticut Judge Jane Grossman and involved a battle over the couple’s assets and the custody of the couple’s three children.

Riorden’s lawsuit was filed in the Litchfield judicial district by attorney Alisha Mathers.

At the core of the 10-page complaint are elements of both professional malpractice and fraud. The damage, according attorney Mather’s complaint, is that Riorden (the mother) lost custody of her children despite the fact that she had not “been charged with unfitness by the state nor has she ever been accused of abuse of neglect of the children by any agency.”

According to the suit, Riordan was stripped of her custody rights by judge Grossman because of “the Defendant’s (Caverly’s) testimony and malpractice.” 

FAMILIES FIGHT BACK

The Connecticut case is the latest in a series of lawsuits where families who have been trapped in family court battles are pushing back against court officers and “experts” who they claim have delivered false, incomplete or misleading information to the judges who rely on their professional expertise. These expert-witnesses are involved not only in cases of divorce, but also Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS) cases in state courts from coast to coast.

CALIFORNIA “CHILD WELFARE”

One of the first of these “pushback” suits was the case of Rachel Bruno in southern California. Bruno, the mother of an infant child, was “suspected” of abuse by a state administrator. 

But nobody had actually accused Bruno of any abuse and neglect, let alone delivered any evidence to support their “suspicion” of abuse or neglect.  No medical professional had reported abuse, and no psychologist had performed a professional evaluation or diagnosis of the mother.

Yet all that was needed to propel the case into the state’s legal bureaucracy was the unsubstantiated “suspicions” of an administrator.  

Despite the lack of evidence, Bruno’s child was taken away from her by state authorities. Once in state custody, officials —without the consent of either the child’s parents or the child’s pediatrician—gave the child a series of medical tests and vaccinations and put the infant child into foster care.

Bruno worked with San Diego attorney Shawn A. McMillan to first regain custody of her son. The “authorities” in California kept the child away from his mother for over a month before finally releasing him back to Bruno. 

Then, once re-united with her boy, Bruno and McMullen sued the people who had separated Bruno from her child.  They filed suit saying that the state abused their authority by making incomplete, inaccurate and misleading claims to “the state” about Bruno.

Bruno collected nearly 1.5 million dollars from various state and county agencies in southern California as the result of the state’s bad deeds. 

More information about the Bruno case can be found at her website: www.rachelbruno.com

KENTUCKY “CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES”

Another “pushback” case—still active in both federal and state courts—is the story of Holly and David Schulkers from Kentucky. 

Holly went to give birth to the Schulker’s fifth child at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Edgewood, Kentucky. After her arrival at the hospital, Holly was informed by the hospital’s staff that she had tested positive for opiates.

The hospital’s “case worker” charted into Hollly’s records that “Holly had a positive drug screen and wrote that Holly had a “substance use disorder” even through St. Elizabeth’s actual prenatal lab tests all had been negative for substance abuse and that she had no history of drug use.

Court records detail that despite the medical evidence showing that Holly was not using drugs, the social worker called the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (“CHFS”) to get involved. That call triggered the opening of a state “case file” on Holly Schulker based on the false and incomplete evidence delivered to the state by the hospital’s social worker.  

The Schulker’s found themselves in a legal battle over the care of their infant child with both Kentucky “welfare agency” and with the hospital. The issues got worse before they got better.

Despite the documented medical evidence that Holly Schulker was not a drug addict or a threat to her children, the State of Kentucky simply ignored that evidence and refused to close their “case file” on Schuklers for months. 

Kentucky state officials did not use the hospital’s negative drug tests to correct the record for Schulker. Instead, they did just the opposite: They chose to expand their “investigation.” 

Federal court records detail that Kentucky CHFS sent investigators to the local schools where the four other Schulker’s children were enrolled. Without a warrant, the consent of the parents, or an attorney present, state officials interviewed the four minor Schulker children. The Kentucky state investigators even barred the school’s teachers and administrators from witnessing the CHFS interrogations of the Schulker’s children.

So the Schulker’s fought back.

Working with Kentucky attorney Paul J. Hill of Fort Mitchell, the family sued the people who used incomplete and misleading data to make a false diagnosis and target and intimidate the family. It is an ongoing fight with far-reaching implications regarding the “immunity” of people working on behalf of the state, to the limits of “red flag” laws.

Here is a link to local coverage of the Schulker “family court” story:

https://www.nkytribune.com/2020/04/sixth-circuit-court-of-appeals-rules-in-favor-of-holly-and-david-schulkers-in-suit-against-social-workers/

CONNECTICUT FAMILY COURT “EVALUATIONS”

Like the California and Kentucky cases, the fraud and malpractice suit against Dr. Caverly in Connecticut is centered on the claim that Dr. Caverly’s “professional diagnostic evaluation” of Riorden was not based on any of the standards established by the American Psychiatric Association. 

The lawsuit in essence claims that Caverly’s “analysis” is filled with psychological language that sounds sophisticated but is meaningless in a professional, diagnostic sense. The suit claims that that Dr. Caverly’s incomplete and misleading report is what caused Judge Grossman to deny Riorden custody and lose access to her three children. 

SPF contacted Dr. Caverly for comment, but at the time of this writing, had received from her no reply.

About Edmund Burke 101 Articles
Volunteers working to help people spot, stop and recover from fraud and corruption in probate, trusts, estates & guardianships.