New Castle News


July 3, 2013

County, Jameson to pay $143,500 in bagel case

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County and Jameson Hospital are splitting a settlement following the taking of an infant over a drug test.

Under a settlement agreement, the county and hospital are paying $143,500 in damages and legal fees in the case that involved a woman who ate a bagel with poppy seeds shortly before giving birth. A federal lawsuit in the cases was formally dismissed Tuesday as a result of the settlement.

The woman, Elizabeth Mort, was tested for drugs at Jameson in April 2010 at the time of the birth of her daughter. The test came back positive for opiates. As a result of that test, Jameson personnel contacted Lawrence County Children and Youth Services, which obtained a court order to remove the infant from the custody of her parents, Alexander Rodriguez and Mort.

According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the couple by the Pittsburgh office of the American Civil Liberties Union, the positive drug test was the result of a bagel Mort consumed prior to giving birth. The complaint noted subsequent testing showed no opiates in Mort’s system and testing also found no drugs in the infant girl.

The lawsuit said the infant was placed in foster care for five days before being returned to her family.

Commenting on the matter Tuesday, Sara J. Rose, an ACLU attorney who represented Mort and Rodriguez, said, “We are pleased that we were able to resolve the case.”

Rose said that was particularly because of policy changes agreed to by Jameson and children and youth services. “This should go a long way toward preventing injustices from happening in the future,” she added

In Mort’s case, Rose said, the infant was removed from the home solely on the evidence from testing a single sample from Mort. No effort was made by either the hospital or county to talk to the mother or her doctor about the test results or what might have caused them, she said. It’s conceivable, she continued, the result could have been from prescribed medication the hospital was not aware of.

Instead, Rose described an “extremely distressing” scenario where authorities showed up at the family’s home and removed the infant without notice.

As a result of the settlement, Rose said, Jameson has agreed to alter its procedures. Now, the hospital will call children and youth services only if there is a positive test for the infant. Rose said that a mother’s eating of a bagel should not produce a positive result in an infant at birth.

She added there also would be follow-ups by the hospital to determine the source of the positive drug result.

Rose claimed many medical associations do not recommend routine drug testing of women who are giving birth. Such testing, she said, is viewed as intrusive and “not cost-effective.”

In addition, Rose said, the settlement obliges children and youth services to change its procedures should a similar case arise. Now, the agency will seek to contact the parents before pursuing a court order to remove the child.

Regarding the payments in the case, Rose said $70,000 is for damages that will go to the family. The remaining $73,500 is for the ACLU’s legal fees.

Children and youth services is responsible for $73,000 of the payment, while Jameson must cover $70,500, Rose said.

When asked about the settlement, Dan Vogler, Lawrence County commissioner chairman, said he has a standing practice not to comment on legal matters involving the county.

Nicole Hunter, spokeswoman for Jameson Hospital, said, “We do not have any further comment.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • DougDanko.jpg Census shows county population getting older

    Lawrence County’s population continues to get older. However, it is not alone, as Pennsylvania overall is aging.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • backpackproject.jpg Councilman picks up tab to help lunch program

    Participants of a local summer feeding program are eating this week courtesy of New Castle City Councilman Tim Fulkerson. On Friday morning, the truck dispatched from New Castle to pick up about 3,500 pounds of items from the Pittsburgh Food Bank broke down as it arrived at its destination.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CRESTVIEW.jpg Outreach: Churches plan to host picnic for residents of Crestview Gardens

    Volunteers from several area churches are banding together in hopes of bringing peace to a troubled neighborhood.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • lamancusa.jpg Tanner, district attorney: No comment

    The Lawrence County District Attorney is keeping mum about a probe into finances in Shenango Township. “We don’t talk about ongoing investigations,” Lamancusa said Friday.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

House Ads

Do you talk to yourself when you're alone?

Yes, but I’m basically just thinking out loud.
No, that would be weird.
I don’t know. Next time I’m alone, I’ll ask.
     View Results