The ACLU of Indiana filed suit on behalf of Lelah and Jade Jerger, the parents of a 2-year-old child with epilepsy who was forced by officials with the Indiana Department of Child Services’ to have her blood drawn because of the Jergers’ decision to attempt natural remedies for her condition.
Following a voicemail complaint from one of J.J.’s providers indicating (erroneously) that J.J. was not taking a specific prescribed medication – as the Jergers, concerned about the side-effects of that medication, had initially relied on natural remedies that had proven successful both in other cases and in J.H.’s case–the Indiana Department of Child Services initiated an investigation into the alleged medical neglect of J.J.
Even though Alison Garrett (a family case manager employed by the DCS who was at all times acting under the supervision and at the direction of Shannon Blaize) was promptly informed that J.J. had already begun taking the medication, she nonetheless required—in order for the Jergers to avoid the filing of a petition alleging that J.J. was a child in need of services—that the Jergers take J.J. for a blood draw to confirm that she was currently on Keppra. This non-consensual blood draw represents a warrantless search and seizure, and therefore violated J.J.’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Insofar as it was required because of the Jergers’ decision to attempt natural remedies before committing to a pharmaceutical with significant side-effects, it also violated all plaintiffs’ substantive due process rights of familial association.
Several days after this blood draw, and despite the fact that she was taking the Keppra, J.J. experienced what appeared to be a small seizure. Following communications from Norton Hospital in Louisville, Ms. Garrett and Ms. Blaize informed the Jergers that they would be required to promptly take J.J. to Norton Hospital rather than to any other hospital. This requirement that the Jergers use a specific provider also violated the plaintiffs’ substantive due process rights of familial association.
The ACLU of Indiana is suing on the Jergers’ behalf for damages resulting from their ordeal.