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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Fathers file class action against Utah attorneys general over state adoption policies

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 24, 2014


SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) - Twelve biological fathers are suing the Utah Office of the Attorney General after they claim their children were fraudulently taken away from them due to adoption.

Former Utah attorneys general Mark L. Shurtleff and John E. Swallow were also named as defendants in the suit.

The plaintiffs claim even though Shurtleff and Swallow had received numerous written notifications of gross adoption infirmities in Utah, they did nothing for more than a decade to correct the fraud and deception that has consequently led to the unlawful and unconstitutional removal of children from their biological families.

This has essentially resulted in their kidnapping and highly unethical and disruptive placement into adoptive homes without the knowledge or consent of their biological fathers, according to a complaint filed Jan. 22 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah-Central Division.

The plaintiffs claim the putative father requirements set forth in Utah's Adoption Act "have now been employed in practice, to create a confusing labyrinth of virtually incomprehensible legal mandates and nearly impossible deadlines with which biological fathers and others are unable to comply..."

The majority, if not all, of the illegal adoptions accomplished in Utah are ostensibly given a stamp of judicial approval through an adoption process that has effectively legalized fraud and kidnapping, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim since amending the Fraud Immunity Statute in 2008, and other portions of the Utah Adoption Act, they have been used to unlawfully and unconstitutionally strip unmarried biological fathers of their right to parent their minor children.

The minor children have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally denied the right to known and maintain a relationship with their biological fathers, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim the duties of the Utah attorney general is to protect, preserve and promote the constitutional rights of all individuals affected by the laws of the state, which Swallow and Shurtleff failed to do.

The defendants "have all failed to carry out the duties, oath and mission of their office as Utah Attorney General in numerous respects," according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim Swallow and Shurtleff had personal knowledge of Utah's illegal, unconstitutional and unethical adoption practices.

The defendants "turned a blind eye" to the fraud and kidnapping that was taking place under the guise of Utah's adoption laws, "in direct contradiction to their personal promises, their oath of office, their statutory mandates and their stated priorities and also their oats as licensed attorneys in Utah," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages in an amount no less than $250 million; equitable and/or declaratory relief; treble and/or punitive or exemplary damages in an amount no less than $250 million. They are being represented by Wesley D. Hutchins of the Hutchins Law Firm.

The plaintiffs are Robert Benito Manzanares, Christopher David Thomas Carlton, Jake M. Strickland, Jacob D. Brooks, Michael D. Hunter, Frank L. Martin, Samuel G. Dye, Bobby L. Nevares, William E. Bolden, John M. Wyatt III, Cody M. O'Dea and Scottie Wallace.

Utah's current attorney general is Sean D. Reyes.

U.S. District Court for the District of Utah-Central Division case number: 2:14-cv-00040

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at

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