Family rights case set for battle in Idaho

Federal District Judge B. Lynn Winmill today set a trial date in CIR’s long-running case on behalf of the Muellers, a family whose five-week old daughter was unlawfully seized by police and state child protection officials in a Boise, Idaho, emergency room.

Corissa Mueller had brought her daughter Taige to the ER with a slight fever. After discussing her treatment with an ER doctor, Mrs. Mueller elected to wait and see how Taige was doing before deciding whether to authorize a spinal tap. The doctor didn’t like this decision (even though it’s considered reasonable by eminent pediatricians), and he got social workers and the police involved. The police physically seized Taige from Mrs. Mueller (and held the latter in a room for an hour without letting her use the phone) and the doctor did his spinal tap — which a few hours later came back negative for meningitis. Doctors now figured Taige had a cold. The social workers held onto Taige for another day, though, and also administered the baby unnecessary steroids–a treatment to which Mrs. Mueller would not have consented. And nobody bothered to phone father Eric Mueller (at home taking care of the couple’s other child) and tell him what was in store for his daughter until it had been done.

CIR sued on behalf of the Mueller family, and in February 2007, Judge Winmill found that social workers and the police detective who seized Taige violated the family’s constitutional rights relating to who should make decisions about Taige’s medical treatment. The judge reserved the main factual question of whether Taige was in imminent danger when seized for trial. Following an appeal by the police detective on a minor issue, today the judge set a date for that trial: June 7, 2010.