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Family of newborn taken after birth sues hospital, Native American tribe | KRVN Radio

Family of newborn taken after birth sues hospital, Native American tribe

Creatas/Thinkstock
Creatas/Thinkstock

(KENDALL, Fla.) — The family of a newborn who was taken from a hospital after she was born is suing the Native American tribe who sent an officer to take her as well as the hospital, which they claim was negligent in allowing the infant to be discharged.

On March 18, the baby girl, named Ingrid, was taken from West Kendall Baptist Hospital in Kendall, Florida, by a Miccosukee Tribe police officer who presented hospital staff with a tribal court order to obtain custody of the baby.

Lawyers for Ingrid’s parents, Justin Johnson and Rebecca Sanders, filed the lawsuit Friday morning against members of the tribe as well as the hospital.

They accused the hospital and members of its staff of several counts of negligence in regard to Ingrid’s discharge, her personal medical information and failure to mitigate the release of her personal information, attorney Maximilian Steiner said in a press conference Friday. The parents also accused the hospital of the tort of outrage and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

“The hospital has a duty to protect their patients,” attorney Richard Wolfe said. “There was a simple act of negligence.”

The lawsuit also accuses several members of the tribe — including Michael Gay, the officer who allegedly took Ingrid, and Sanders’ mother, Betty Osceola — of false imprisonment, conspiracy, the tort of outrage and intentional infliction of emotional distress, Steiner said.

Wolfe alleged that Gay conducted the “kidnapping” at gunpoint and violated federal law when he brought his gun off tribal territory.

“The officer who came to the hospital illegally had his hand on his gun,” Rolfe said.

The lawsuit did not allege negligence on behalf of the tribal members because they have sovereign immunity, Wolfe said.

Johnson said that while he and his family are “doing much better now” that they have their daughter back, he’s afraid that the “Miccosukee Tribe would possibly try this again.”

“It’s like waking up from a nightmare and then still wondering if something like this can happen again,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

Sanders also said she is “still fearful,” describing the ordeal as traumatic.

“I’m afraid to go anywhere alone or anywhere that I can’t protect my daughter from anything happening to her,” she said.

The custody battle began last month after a tribal judge granted custody of baby Ingrid and Sanders’ two older children to Osceola, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The parents alleged that Osceola falsely claimed Johnson had abused Sanders’ older children in order to get the tribal court to grant her custody.

On Friday, Johnson said he was unaware of the abuse allegations until baby Ingrid was taken from the hospital. Sanders said she was “dumbfounded” by the allegations, adding that Johnson is like a father figure to her older children.

Miami-Dade police said that a tribal police sergeant had asked them for backup to enforce a federal court order to take the baby from the hospital, but it was later determined that there was no federal order, just an order from the tribe.

Days later after she was taken, a tribal judge ordered the baby to be returned to Johnson and Sanders.

But Sanders’ two older children are still in her mother’s custody, she said on Friday.

“My ultimate goal in this situation is to get my other two children back,” she said.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Johnson, and a subsequent lawsuit will be filed on behalf of Sanders, Wolfe said, adding that the separate filings are part of their legal strategy.

The appropriate amount of monetary damages in the lawsuit will be determined by a jury in Broward County, Wolfe said.

The attorneys have contacted both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Florida State Attorney’s office, calling for them to criminally charge those responsible for Ingrid’s kidnapping, Wolfe said.

A spokeswoman for the Baptist Health system declined to comment on the pending litigation, but said the hospital feels “for everyone involved in this challenging circumstance.”

“It is our policy to be in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations and to work in accordance with the highest ethical and moral standards,” Dori Alvarez, corporate director of marketing and communications for Baptist Health, said in a statement to ABC News.

A spokesperson for the Miccosukee Tribe was not available to comment on the lawsuit.

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