Claims officials interfered with his attempts to prove he was child’s father so they could place infant.
WILKES-BARRE – A Luzerne County man has filed a lawsuit against a local nonprofit maternity agency and several others, alleging agency officials interfered with his attempts to prove he was a child’s father so that they could place the infant with an adoptive family.
Javier Ortiz claims officials with His Resting Place maternity home in Exeter convinced the child’s mother, Danielle Tomchak, to falsely state she did not know the identity of the father in order to facilitate the adoption of the child by a Union County couple.
The suit, filed Monday in Luzerne County Court by attorney Barry Dyller, further alleges that the officials later thwarted Ortiz’s attempts to obtain a paternity test, resulting in a delay in his obtaining custody of the child.
The suit names as defendants His Resting Place and two of its representatives, Petra Plucenik and Barb Giordano, as well Tomchak, The Ark Learning Center in Kingston and The Luzerne Foundation, which provides funding to His Resting Place.
Petra Plucenik and her husband, John, are co-directors of His Resting Place, which provides housing and counseling services to pregnant women, and The Ark Learning Center, which provides Christian counseling services.
In a statement issued Tuesday, John Plucenik said it was unfortunate his wife and the agency have to respond to such “outrageous allegations.”
“It is also ridiculous to drag The Luzerne Foundation, a pillar of charitable giving in our community, into this action when they have nothing to do with it,” Plucenik said. “It is sad that we have to spend valuable time and resources answering these falsehoods. If we are guilty of anything, it is caring so much for homeless women and children.”
According to the suit:
Tomchak gave birth to a daughter, Kayla, on Sept. 7, 2008. At the time, Tomchak was incarcerated at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. A representative from His Resting Place contacted Tomchak about placing the child for adoption.
The representative, who is not identified, told Tomchak that if she revealed the identity of the child’s father, the infant would be placed with Children and Youth. If she said she did not know the father’s identify, the child could be placed up for adoption.
About a month after the child’s birth, Tomchak advised Ortiz that adoption proceedings were pending and sent a letter to His Resting Place, advising the agency she knew the father’s identity. By that time the child had been placed with the proposed adoptive parents.
On Oct. 15 Ortiz advised the agency in writing that he did not consent to the adoption and initiated a custody proceeding in county court. Ortiz’s attorney contacted a representative with His Resting Place on Oct. 22, but the agency maintained it did not know the identity of the child’s father.
Ortiz next sought to have a paternity test performed, but his efforts were delayed because Giordano ignored several letters that were sent certified mail to The Ark Learning Center, which is the address Giordano had given Ortiz’s attorney.
The test was finally performed in December. The results, received in January 2009, confirmed Ortiz was the child’s father. A county judge awarded custody to Ortiz in February.
The suit seeks more than $100,000 in damages for negligence, claiming the defendants were required by law to attempt to identify the child’s father, but failed to do so. It also seeks to compensate Ortiz for emotional distress he and the child suffered due to the 5 �-month delay in having the child placed with him.
Terrie Morgan-Besecker, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 570-829-7179.