Samantha Cooper* suffered from an extremely difficult condition for which medication had proven to be incapable of preventing flare-ups. As a result, this meant that Samantha and her parents, Richard and Lisa, had become regulars at the local children’s hospital.
Samantha’s day-to-day healthcare was guided by protocols established and refined over time by her specialists. However, any time Samantha had a relapse requiring a trip to the hospital, Lisa would have to start at the very beginning to re-explain Samantha’s condition to the hospital’s nurses and doctors, as well as explain what Samantha’s recommended treatment protocol was. Due to Samantha’s unique reaction to many medications and interventions, her best outcomes were often not achieved with what the hospital staff would consider their standard protocol. Lisa found it routinely necessary to advocate for Samantha’s treatment approach in the light of hard lessons learned in previous hospitalizations. Most of the time, the hospital’s doctors understood, agreed, and things went smoothly. Sometimes they did not.
On one particular hospital visit, in addition to a relapse of her regular illness, Samantha had developed a new condition that Lisa asked the doctors to have tested. However, without explaining why, the doctors refused to order the test. Instead, one of the physicians who had apparently become weary of dealing with Lisa’s questions and advocacy reported the Coopers to Child Protective Services (CPS). Shortly thereafter, a hospital social worker came to the room and told Lisa that CPS would be there in thirty minutes. Lisa called Richard, who was already on his way. Richard called Heritage Defense.
As members of Heritage Defense, Richard used the 24/7 line reserved for members with urgent legal situations. He was immediately connected with one of the Heritage Defense attorneys, and then merged the call with Lisa. The attorney advised the Coopers to tell the CPS worker that they would like their attorney to be present and that their attorney had asked for the worker’s business card so he could contact the worker directly. The attorney advised the Coopers that, if the CPS worker pressed, to be polite but firm and say, “We want to cooperate, but our attorney said that he needed to be present for any conversations.” If the CPS worker were to become aggressive, the attorney advised the Coopers to call him back immediately.
Thankfully, the CPS investigator did not interfere with the Coopers while Samantha remained in the hospital, but called Richard a few days after her discharge to initiate the investigation. As directed, Richard politely declined to discuss the case with her, but took her contact information and promised that his attorney would be contacting her. He immediately provided the CPS investigator’s information to the Heritage Defense attorney who called her back later. The CPS investigator explained to that attorney that the Coopers were being accused of medically neglecting Samantha. The CPS investigator requested an interview with the Coopers.
The investigation consisted of interviews with Richard, Lisa, and Samantha, all together and all with the attorney present. Although the CPS investigator sought to ask them questions unrelated to the allegations, the Heritage Defense attorney objected in order to keep the interview from getting out of bounds by delving into irrelevant subjects. The interview went well overall, but the CPS investigator later demanded to come into the Coopers’ home and interview four of their other children.
At Heritage Defense, we generally seek to avoid children being subjected to interviews, especially when those children do not directly relate to the allegations. We also generally seek to avoid intrusions into the privacy of the home, especially where the home does not directly relate to the allegations.
In the Coopers’ case, the allegations were about medical care for Samantha. The allegations did not directly relate to the other four children nor to the home. Accordingly, the Heritage Defense attorney refused to let CPS interview the other children or come in the home. Instead, he provided the investigator with pictures of the home, contact information for references, and letters from Samantha’s specialist and primary care physician, all of which demonstrated the Coopers’ excellent care for their daughter. CPS then closed their investigation and ruled out any wrongdoing by the Coopers.
Richard and Lisa share their thoughts on the experience:
Having an experienced legal advocate immediately available to answer an emergency call could not have been more helpful. We knew exactly how we were to respond to further inquiries which relieved the pressure on us at a very difficult time. The Heritage Defense attorney stood between us and the CPS investigator. All communications went through the attorney. Based on his seasoned experience, we were able to make informed decisions regarding requests made by the CPS investigator with opportunity for consultation considering all aspects of the situation. It can be an emotional time for those under investigation. Our Heritage Defense attorney was crucial to preventing any emotional responses that could have hindered rather than helped our case.
If you are a member of Heritage Defense, we hope it is an encouragement for you to know that your membership is going to help families like the Coopers. If your family is ever falsely accused of child abuse or neglect, we are ready to defend you and your rights.
If you are not yet a member, please join today to have 24/7 access to experienced attorneys ready to defend your family.
* Names changed for privacy