A California veteran of the Gulf War who lost custody of his children for almost a year is suing local social workers and police for taking the boys because the veteran used marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.
According to the Daily Mail, an anonymous tip reporting a suspected illegal daycare center and drug possession led police to the home veteran Michael Lewis shares with Lauren Taylor and the couple’s two young boys last year in Coronado, Calif.
Investigators found no evidence of a daycare center, but did find Lewis’s marijuana.
Because he had a prescription to use the drug to treat migraine headaches stemming from his Gulf War service, the police left without incident, the Daily Mail reports.
But three days later the home was visited again – this time by local child-welfare agents. Because the drug was present in the home, the agents removed the boys, aged 4 and 2 at the time, and took them to an abused children’s shelter in San Diego where they stayed for two weeks.
They were eventually made wards of the court and placed in a foster home, according to the Courthouse News Service. It was almost a year before Lewis and Taylor got their sons back.
According to the couple’s lawsuit, filed last month in San Diego Superior Court, it was the presence of marijuana in the home alone that made the social workers report abuse, even though there was no evidence that Lewis used the drug in the children’s presence – or that Taylor used it at all
According to the suit, the agents lied repeatedly in juvenile court to paint Lewis as a dangerous drug abuser who, with Taylor, left the boys “inadequately attended and inadequately supervised around the marijuana.”
“This statement was totally false,” the lawsuit states, “and [the agent] knew it, or — even worse — simply didn’t care.”
The children are home with their parents now, according to the Courthouse News Service, but the couple is suing for punitive damages from the local government that took their boys.
“Had the above-mentioned acts been performed by private citizens, the acts would not only have been criminal, but would entitle plaintiffs to bring claims against each such persons for, among others, abduction of a child, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment,” the lawsuit states.