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Image of a newborn
Image of a newborn; image courtesy of Carlo Navarro via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

When most parents welcome the arrival of a new baby in the hospital, there’s a certain expectation that the hospital staff will help keep the child safe until the family leaves to go home. Unfortunately for one South Florida couple, this was not the case. According to a lawsuit filed earlier today, the couple’s “newborn baby girl was taken by Miccosukee tribal police officers from Baptist Hospital last month.” The lawsuit itself was filed against the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians and Baptist Health.

The parents, Justin Johnson and Rebecca Sanders, accused “Miccosukee Tribe officials of “false imprisonment, conspiracy, and defamation” and claim they caused the couple “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” In addition, a news release made the following statement regarding the case:

“Baptist faces additional allegations of negligence in the discharge of Baby Ingrid, in the release of her medical records and in the failure to mitigate the release of her medical records to the Tribe from the hospital.”

What happened, though? For starters, according to the lawsuit, “officers took the baby to be with her maternal grandmother, who the couple said was displeased that Ingrid has a white father.” Four days later the decision was reversed largely due to public outcry. Even Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, spoke out, calling “the move a kidnapping.”

Image of Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio; image courtesy of United States Senate via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

Despite the outcry, though, the Miccosukee business council members defended the tribe’s actions. According to them, the “tribal social services department acted with the cooperation and fully informed involvement of the Miami-Dade Police Department and Baptist Hospital staff,” and even noted that the “tribal court’s order was appropriate.”

However, the police department and Rubio disputed some of the statements the council made. Rubio, for example, tweeted the following:

“Miccosukee say they kidnapped the baby to protect from abusive father. But why did they take her from mother too? Tribal court has no power outside reservation without state or fed court approval…They lied to police and hospital claiming to have such approval.”

The infant’s mother also pushed back against the council’s decision and claims she never even got the chance to “dispute the tribal order” and noted that she didn’t even receive a copy of the tribal order “until a day after the traumatic separation.”

Johnson, who was and still is understandably upset about the incident, said he was “never served with a restraining order and argues that any allegations of domestic violence against him were false.”

Even though the couple has their child back, they’re still fearful that the tribal council will attempt to take their daughter, Ingrid Ronan Johnson, again later down the road. She said, “It has been very traumatic, and I’m still fearful of anything that may happen if they can take her again or not.” She also noted that she is “afraid to go anywhere alone now and just wants to protect her daughter.”

As for Baptist Health’s role in the debacle? Well, so far Dori Robau Albarez, a spokeswoman for the hospital, issued the following statement:

“We feel 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. We are unable to comment on the specifics of pending litigation.”

Sources:

Parents file lawsuit after baby girl taken from Baptist Hospital by tribal police

Father Of Baby Taken By Miccosukee Tribe Files Lawsuit Against Tribe and Baptist Health

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