In Davidson v. Gurewitz (October 20, 2015) (here), the Appellate Court, Second District, held that a child representative appointed under section 506(a) of the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act enjoys absolute immunity from malpractice liability.
to section 506(a)(3), the trial court appointed Thomas Gurewitz as the child
representative of the divorcing parent’s minor child. After the trial court
entered the judgment of dissolution, the mother sued Gurewitz for malpractice.
The mother claimed that Gurewitz completed his duties as a child representative
on October 1, 2012, when the parties entered into a parenting agreement that
settled all issues relating to the best interests of the child. The plaintiff
further alleged that instead of withdrawing from the case after completing his
duties, Gurewitz participated in the trial by cross-examining the plaintiff and
making a closing argument. According to the malpractice complaint, Gurewitz’s
unauthorized actions resulted in the entry of a judgment “replete and filled
with vindictiveness relating to [plaintiff].”
moved to dismiss the malpractice action arguing that it was barred by the
doctrine of absolute immunity. The appellate court acknowledged that section
506(a) does not, by its terms, immunize child representatives. But the court
determined that the common law affords immunity to court-appointed child
representatives. Thus, the Second District aligned itself with the First District’s
decision in Vlastelica
v. Brend (here), finding
that absolute immunity is necessary so that a child representative can “fulfill
his obligations without worry of harassment and intimidation from dissatisfied
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