Jury rules against Boise couple in parental rights case

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by KTVB and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on July 1, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 26 at 2:21 AM

BOISE -- A federal jury has decided a family's civil rights were not violated when their young daughter was given a spinal tap against their wishes.

Corissa and Eric Mueller brought the lawsuit against St. Luke's Regional Medical Center, Dr. Richard MacDonald, Boise and state officials nearly six years ago.

After a 16-day trial, the jury reached a verdict Wednesday, siding with the hospital and the physician, along with city and state officials.

The Muellers, former Boise residents, said their constitutional rights were violated in 2002 when a Boise police officer took custody of their 5-week-old daughter Taige so a doctor could check for signs of meningitis eight years ago.

"For the hospital, our patients are our number one concern, and for someone to accuse us of not looking out for the best interest of our patients is very serious to us.  We believe everything done that evening was right.  We believe the doctor's actions were not only right, we are pleased the jury has concurred with that," St. Luke's attorney Walt Sinclair said.

"From the beginning, it hasn't been about money, it's been about constitutional rights for every parent not just us.  Every parent out there. We had to do what we had to do," Corissa Mueller said.

"We felt it was our duty to go for it.  It's our responsibility as a citizen," Eric Mueller said.

The Muellers are unsure how they plan to proceed legally.  It is too soon to decide if they will appeal.

The jury did side with the Muellers on one aspect:  The doctor acting in what is called "bad faith".

The doctor's attorney explains that means the jury decided the doctor wasn't immune to claims -- but he did not do anything medically, or ethically, wrong in this case and won't face any consequences.

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