Parents Sue San Diego County, Others, for Wrongfully Taking Children into Custody

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A Coronado couple has filed a lawsuit against the city, San Diego County, two police officers, and seven county officials, accusing them of improperly taking two children into custody and preventing them from returning home for nearly a year.

The Coronado Patch reports that Michael Lewis and Lauren Taylor are suing officials-who first placed their children in a home, and then in foster care-due to Lewis’ use of medical marijuana. The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court, alleges false imprisonment, negligence, battery, and civil rights violations.

On August 8, 2011, county officials and two Coronado officers removed two boys, ages 4 and 2 at the time, from the couples’ home to the Polinsky Children’s Center, located in Clairemont Mesa. The boys remained in the center for two weeks while authorities pursued the family for marijuana possession.

According to the lawsuit, officers who had visited the family three days prior to the children’s removal had already accepted that Lewis’ doctor had recommended the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Lewis served in the Gulf War and suffers from migraines, and practices marijuana use away from the children. Taylor does not use the drug.

Despite evidence from Lewis’ doctor attesting to the legality of his marijuana use, county officials accused him of being a forger and drug dealer, and suffering from mental illness. Taylor was also accused of using marijuana in a way that posed a danger to the children, despite negative drug tests and evidence that the children were well nourished, intelligent, and showed no sign of abuse or neglect.

Following court proceedings, the children were placed in foster care and not returned to their parents until August 7, 2012.

The lawsuit accuses San Diego county officials of lying in juvenile court to justify long-term removal. Abigail Joseph is named as making false statements calculated to lead the court into placing the children in custody, and disregarding evidence.

Lewis and Taylor seek an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

If you or a loved one is seeking punitive damages in a lawsuit, contact San Diego personal injury attorney Melinda Helbock. Ms. Helbock has successfully represented clients in many personal cases.