shawn-mcmillan

Health Impact News Editor Comments

Attorney Shawn McMillan of California specializes in civil rights cases against child protection agencies. He has been awarded the “Street Fighter of the Year” award for defending family rights and taking on the abuses of social service agencies in California.

The website of his law firm can be found here.

Courthouse News Service is reporting that Attorney McMillan is representing a federal class action lawsuit against “Riverside County, Juvenile Dependency Investigator Karla Torres, Torres’s supervisor Felicia M. Butler, and all similarly situated county social workers and investigators” for taking “a newborn baby from her mother without a reason or a warrant,” and for making “a habit of it.” The suit claims that the Southern California County takes “thousands of babies” without cause.

SoCal County Takes ‘Thousands’ of Babies Without Cause, Class Says

By REBEKAH KEARN 
Courthouse News Service

Excerpts:

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – Riverside County took a newborn baby from her mother without a reason or a warrant – and it makes a habit of it, the mother and baby claim in a federal class action.

Lead plaintiff A.A., the baby, sued Riverside County, Juvenile Dependency Investigator Karla Torres, Torres’s supervisor Felicia M. Butler, and all similarly situated county social workers and investigators, in the Dec. 12 lawsuit.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Shawn McMillan told Courthouse News that his firm, which specializes in civil rights cases against child protection agencies, “uncovered an alarming trend” about a year ago during discovery for other cases.

“County child welfare agencies regularly subvert the constitutional rights of parents and children by seizing children from their parents when there is no danger to the child, and in fact no need to seize the child at all,” McMillan said. “The class action is designed to address a procedural problem. They [Riverside County social workers] as a matter of course don’t get warrants before seizing kids. Deficient policies, deficient training and deficient supervision all lead to civil rights violations on a regular basis,” McMillan said. “This lawsuit is designed to address the problem.”

The 27-page lawsuit claims that A.A. is one of thousands of children wrongfully taken from her mother by county social workers.

 “In February 2013, when she was three days old, plaintiff A.A. was snatched by an employee of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services literally from the breast of her mother as they lay in the hospital recuperating from a successful, safe delivery,” the complaint states. A.A. “was healthy and in no danger whatever; her mother has no history of drug, alcohol, or tobacco use nor any history of psychiatric treatment,” according to the lawsuit.

The county “had unlawfully seized (A.A.’s) four siblings months before and sent them into foster care,” the complaint states. It claims “thousands of other children” have been seized by Riverside County employees “without any sort of warrant and without any risk of serious injury.”

McMillan said the social workers find the children they seize via two statewide databases: the CWS/CMS system and the Child Abuse Central Index. Anyone reported as being involved in suspected child abuse is likely to be in one or both systems, he said.

“If you appear on one of them, you have an immediate black mark against you. The CWS/CMS system is largely kept a secret so that children, as they age into adulthood, and parents may not even know they are listed,” McMillan said. “In any event, the databases are largely accessible to hospital and social workers and the like.”

The plaintiffs claim that Riverside County social workers know or should know that taking children from their families without a warrant is illegal and violates their civil rights. The county itself “turned a blind eye” to what its social workers do, and failed to train them on “child abuse and dependency type investigations and court proceedings,” the complaint states.

 “The real problem here is that the county itself is at fault for not adequately training its workers and supervising them,” McMillan said. “In addition, the county has failed – for years, if not decades, to implement any policies or procedures to protect the 4th Amendment rights of children and the 14th Amendment rights of parents in circumstances similar to those presented in the present lawsuit.” McMillan said that the constitutional violations are “a direct result of the deficient polices and practices of the county. For this reason, we anticipate that the discovery process will reveal the individually named workers were each involved in dozens, if not hundreds of unwarranted child seizures.”

Read the full story here.

 

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