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Lawsuit upheld in seizing of newborn

A mother's lawsuit against a Lawrence County youth services agency and a hospital can move forward, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Eileen Bower of New Castle is suing the county's Children and Youth Services and the Jameson Health System because a hospital report that she tested positive for opiates just before her delivery led the agency to take custody of her newborn son for 75 days. Bower had eaten a salad containing poppy seeds just before going into labor.

U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry refused to toss Bower's two civil rights claims against the county agency, the caseworker who obtained the custody order and the hospital.

He cited a ruling by U.S. District Judge David Cercone that refused to dismiss the constitutional claims in a similar case. Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez are suing the same agency and hospital for taking their daughter shortly after she was born because Mort tested positive for opiates two hours after eating a bagel with poppy seeds.

Cercone dismissed their negligence claim against the hospital, but McVerry refused to dismiss Bower's. McVerry, however, agreed to dismiss Bower's negligence claims against the agency and the caseworker and her invasion-of-privacy claim against the hospital.

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