Following the birth of their first child, a healthy baby girl named Isabella, Newcastle, PA, residents Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez returned home from the hospital expecting to settle in to the challenges and joys of parenthood.
Instead, one day later, the young parents were confronted at their home by two Lawrence County Children and Youth Services caseworkers and two police officers armed with a court order to remove the three-day-old infant. This was the first time Mort learned that she had tested positive for drugs while in the hospital. The false positive had been caused by an "everything" bagel with poppy seeds Elizabeth had eaten two hours before going to the hospital. Despite Mort's insistence that she had never used illegal drugs while pregnant, the case workers took Isabella away and held her for five days.
Mort was eventually cleared of illegal drug use, and today Isabella is a happy and healthy 6-month-old living with her parents.
Statement of Elizabeth Mort
When CYS showed up at my house and told me that I tested positive for opiates, I was shocked. I had to ask what opiates were, and they had told me it was a drug.
The best thing in my life had been taken from me and there was nothing I could do to get her back. When she was gone our family was just at a loss of words. My dad wouldn't stop researching [what causes false positives]. I couldn't stop crying. Alex just didn't even know how to be himself. It felt like our heart was ripped in pieces. The alarm would go off when it was her feeding time, and I burst crying every single time. The most important person was missing and we didn't know when we would see her again.
We decided to file a lawsuit was so that Jameson Hospital and Lawrence County Children and Youth Services could not do this to another innocent family. It breaks families apart. They need to research and ask questions before they jump to conclusions. Our daughter is the most important thing in the world.