Family rights case moves forward

Judge denies hospital, police motions

In a significant legal victory for Boise residents Eric and Corissa Mueller, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill today ruled that CIR can proceed with discovery against St. Luke’s Hospital and the City of Boise in its legal effort to challenge the 2002 seizure of their child by state officials.

In August, 2002, Corissa Mueller took her five week old daughter Taige to the St. Luke’s emergency room because she had a slight fever. Unbeknownst to her, hospital officials called in the the Boise City police and the Idaho Department of Child Protective Services which assumed custody of Taige in order to perform a spinal tap. The Muellers had to go to court two days later to regain custody of their child.

CIR asserts that the Muellers had a constitutional right to make important medical decisions without state interference and that St. Lukes Hospital, the City of Boise and the Idaho Child Protective Services had no basis for interfering with that right. The suit seeks a permanent order barring the seizure of children except when the state has established that they are in imminent danger.

St. Lukes attorneys argued that the hospital was not responsible for the actions of emergency room physicians. Judge Winmill ruled that discovery could continue to determine the relationship between emergency room personnel and the hospital. Separately, the City of Boise argued that it should not be subject to discovery unless the policy is ruled unconstitutional. Judge Winmill denied the City’s motion. Separately, the Judge denied CIR’s motion to certify the case as a class action, saying it was unnecessary to achieving the remedy sought by the Muellers.

“The Mueller family’s day in court is long overdue. Today’s action brings us closer to the time when Idaho parents can discuss important medical decisions with their doctor and amongst themselves without fearing that they may lose custody of their children,” commented Terry Pell, President of the Center for Individual Rights.

The Muellers are represented by CIR and by Boise attorneys John Runft and Jon Steele of Runft Law Offices, PLLC.