Don't Shoot The Messenger: Detective Gets Qualified Immunity Over Bad News

By Joel Zand on August 10, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling in a case involving parents' ability to make decisions about their child's healthcare, and a state's interest in protecting the child's welfare.

The decision in Mueller v. Rogers highlights a government actor's defense of 'qualified immunity' that would free a government worker of being liable for simply doing their job.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held today that the Constitution does not require that a peace officer be the person to give parents notice of a hearing about their child's custody after a state agency had already taken custody of her under state law.

Corissa Mueller and Eric Mueller, parents of five-week-old Taige, filed a civil rights lawsuit against an Oregon detective alleged that their baby girl was wrongfully removed from their custody

The court concluded that since it is a question of material fact as to whether a child is in imminent danger when she is removed from her parents' custody, the District Court decision granting summary judgment to the parents against the detective was wrong.

In this case, Boise, Idaho Detective Dale Rogers removed the 5-week-old baby from her parents' care, at the request of doctors, in order that she be able to receive a spinal tap to determine if she had meningitis.


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