Child custody travesty ends in lawsuit, settlement

On behalf of Loughmiller Higgins, Attorneys at Law posted in Child Custody on Friday, July 26, 2013.

When a Texas couple is expecting, there are a multitude of worries that come into play. Will the pregnancy go smoothly? Will the baby be healthy…are we really ready for this? All are valid concerns, and it is perfectly normal to worry as the due date nears. For one family, the child custody disaster that followed the birth of their baby could never have been anticipated, and would eventually lead to a lawsuit against the hospital and county authorities.

Their story begins when the expectant mother checked into the hospital to give birth. She was given a blood test, the results of which showed opiates in her system at a level of 300 nanograms per milliliter. To put those levels into perspective, the federal testing standard for workplace screening is 2,000 nanograms per milliliter. The infant did not test positive for any type of drugs.

The mother and infant went home following the birth. Shortly thereafter, two police officers and workers from the county Department of Public Welfare came to the family’s home and forcibly removed the newborn infant from her mother’s care. After nearly a week, the baby was returned to her mother, once officials determined that there was no evidence of drug use. The low levels of opiates within the mother’s bloodstream were likely caused by a poppy seed bagel that she consumed on her way to the hospital to deliver her daughter.

As a result of this invasion on the part of the hospital and social services workers, the mother filed suit against both entities. The lawsuit was recently settled, and the family will receive nearly $144,000. More importantly, as part of the settlement, the hospital agreed to cease reporting blood screening results to county authorities unless the infant tests positive for the presence of drugs. While this outcome was favorable for the family involved, the story should serve as a reminder to families in Texas and elsewhere that child custody challenges can come from a variety of entities, often through no fault of the parents involved.

Source: ABC News, “Mother Settles Suit Over Poppy Bagel Drug Test,” Russell Goldman, July 3, 2013

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