Shoving in courtroom leads to civil suit in Baby B adoption case

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SALT LAKE CITY — Robert Manzanares, the former Colorado resident whose fight to be declared the parent of his biological daughter went to the Utah Supreme Court, is suing the child's would-be adoptive father after a courtroom scuffle last week.

According to the suit filed Tuesday in 3rd District Court, as parties were entering the courtroom for a hearing March 21, adoptive father Scott Byington instigated a confrontation with Manzanares by calling him a perjurer and pushing him.

Manzanares' mother, Elizabeth Manzanares, who is also a plaintiff in the suit, stepped between the two and Byington pushed her several times, the suit alleges.

According to the court filing, she told Byington, "Don't ever push Robert and don't you ever speak to him again." The alleged incident occurred between the two sets of doors at the entrance of the courtroom.

The civil suit accuses the adoptive father, Byington, of assault, battery, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The civil suit accuses Byington of assault, battery, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It also seeks undetermined punitive damages and a permanent injunction that would prohibit Byington from any further contact with the Manzanareses.

Manzanares and his mother suffered "significant emotional distress, apprehension about being in public ... fear of encountering Byington in the future ... (and) fear for the safety of the minor child," the suit alleges.

On Jan. 27, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that Manzanares, who now resides in New Mexico, had been denied a say in his daughter's adoption after the mother came to Utah to have the child in February 2008 and gave her up for adoption to relatives.

In a split decision, the high court ordered that the case be returned to the lower court for a rehearing.

In the court proceeding March 21, 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan ordered that Manzanares' name be added to the birth certificate and said he will likely dismiss the adoption, which has never been finalized. The action would move the dispute to courts in Colorado, where the birth mother and father lived before the mother moved to Utah to deliver the child and put it up for adoption.

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Ladd Brubaker


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