Lawyers representing a Pennsylvania mom and dad whose newborn daughter was confiscated – reportedly without reason – when she was born are arguing a trial is needed in the case to assign liability, injury and damages.
The case developed a few years back when the social worker, Angelica Lopez-Heagy, came to the new mom’s hospital room and announced she was investigating.
When the mom wanted to know the allegations, Lopez-Heagy refused to answer, and when the mom said she couldn’t answer without knowing what was happening, the social worker called police and took custody of the newborn.
A judge returned custody to the parents within a day, but officials with the Home School Legal Defense Association have been fighting for the parents’ rights since then because of the egregious nature of the constitutional violations.
“The parental rights of Mr. and Mrs. Ferris were violated the day they lost custody of Annie,” the organization said Wednesday in a statement online. “HSLDA hopes this lawsuit will bring justice to the [Scott and Jodi] Ferris family and lead to more government officials protecting parental rights rather than trampling them.”
The organization noted the defendants in the case, Lopez-Heagy and the Hershey Medical Center, have now asked a judge for a summary judgment – a decision based just on the court documents.
“HSLDA submitted a brief in opposition, pointing out that the timeline the defendants relied on was not backed by other testimony. We also argued that although the defendants downplayed their role in seizing Annie, the social worker and doctors were clearly involved.”
HSLDA filed a complaint on behalf of the couple because, although it normally focuses on homeschooling and relates issues, the constitutional violations were too extreme to ignore.
At that time, HSLDA Chairman Michael P. Farris said, “We are taking this case because we are tired of seeing the erosion of parental rights in virtually every area of life. Parental rights in medical cases have an impact on broader parental rights, including educational decisions. And the plain fact is this: If we don’t fight for parental rights, it is probable that our rights will be eroded bit by bit until there is nothing that remains.”
The lawsuit was filed in 2012, and the court rejected an immediate demand from the defendants to dismiss the case.
“Since that time, both sides have been gathering information and taking testimony from witnesses in preparation for a trial,” the HSLDA said.
Jodi had gone into labor early and the midwife they had hoped would deliver their baby encouraged them to head to a hospital. They did.
The baby, being referred to as “Annie” in the dispute, was born in the ambulance in the parking lot of the Hershey Medical Center – a government hospital in Pennsylvania. Hospital personnel arrived very quickly and took charge of both baby and mom.
However, when Jodi asked nurses about her baby, staff members were “utterly unresponsive.” They gave her an injection without identifying what it was.
Eventually a physician told Jodi her baby scored a 9 on a physical exam applied to newborns known as the APGAR test, where a score of 8 or higher is considered healthy. But then another doctor said the baby was “very sick” and would need to stay in the hospital.
Eventually, two more hospital staffers responded, one saying the baby was fine, but the other says the hospital was required by law to keep the baby for at least 48 hours.
The hospital also administrated several shots to the baby without permission, court files note.
Shortly later, Lopez-Heagy confronted the new mom, ultimately calling police on her. Officers, on the hospital’s instructions, forced the mother to get out of her hospital bed and they “escorted her to the entrance,” HSLDA reported.
Because she was needed on site for nursing every three hours, she and her husband were forced to spend the night in a car in a nearby parking lot.
“You read that right. They kicked this mother out of the hospital, and in order to be close enough to feed her child, she had to sleep in the car,” Farris explained at the time.
At a court hearing the next morning, the baby was returned to the parents.
“The social worker’s priority was not the welfare of Annie, but her own convenience and her own perception of her power. She was aiming to teach this homeschooling mother a lesson. And the hospital was clearly not concerned that Annie had a medical issue – they were just trying to avoid being sued for medical malpractice,” HSLDA’s report said.
The hospital and social worker’s agency in Pennsylvania previously declined to respond to WND requests for comment.