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Family files lawsuit after losing custody of child at MLB game

Even though football and college basketball are officially over, sports fans across Texas and the nation still have many viable entertainment options, including professional basketball, hockey and, of course, baseball. Interestingly enough, a judge in Michigan recently settled a very interesting federal lawsuit concerning a Major League Baseball club, underage drinking and child custody.

The lawsuit in question was filed by the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of parents who temporarily lost custody of their young son after he was mistakenly provided with an alcohol beverage while attending a baseball game with his father.

According to the compliant, a seven-year-old boy was at Comerica Park with his father back in April 2008 to watch the Detroit Tigers. During the course of the game, the boy's father gave his son a "Mike's Hard Lemonade," not knowing that it contained alcohol.

A security guard spotted the boy with the bottle and alerted police posted at the stadium. 

Police proceeded to question the father, while medical staff examined his son, who was given medical clearance.

This wasn't the end of the matter, however, as the son was taken to an area hospital for examination, where he was once again given medical clearance after no alcohol was detected in his system. Nevertheless, the complaint alleges that rather than letting the boy go home with his father, a professor at the University of Michigan, Children's Protective Service was contacted and the boy was put into protective custody for several days.

He was finally released to his mother, who was not present at the baseball game, several days later. However, this was only allowed after the father left the family home and agreed to supervised contact with his son. The case was eventually dismissed and the father moved home.

In their lawsuit, which named City of Detroit officials, Detroit Police officers, Children's Protective Services workers and a Wayne County Judge, the mother and father claimed that their constitutional rights had been violated.

In particular, it argued that their rights to notice and a hearing before their child was removed were violated by the named judge, whose practice was simply to sign blank child removal orders and allow authorities to fill in the details later.

It also argued that the state of Michigan's standard governing the emergency removal of children was unconstitutional in that it failed to protect the rights of parents by requiring officials to prove that a child was in immediate danger.     

As we stated above, the case was settled just yesterday with details of the settlement remaining confidential. It's a good bet, however, that this won't be the last legal challenge mounted against the state's standard for the emergency removal of children.

Source: CBS Detroit, "Judge settles lawsuit in case of child, booze at Detroit Tigers game," April 9, 2014

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