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Boise, ID 83702
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On October 25, 2012, Keely E. Duke and Richard E. Hall of Duke Scanlan & Hall, PLLC, secured a final decision from the Ninth Circuit affirming a jury verdict in favor of their defendant physician in a highly publicized case involving emergency room care provided to an infant in the face of parental refusal of such care.  In Mueller v. Auker, the plaintiffs were parents to a 5 week-old patient who developed a significant fever.  The patient’s mother brought the patient to the emergency room, where the defendant physician determined that a lumbar puncture was necessary to determine whether or not the infant patient had contracted bacterial meningitis, which, if present, could have resulted in brain damage or death.  The patient’s mother refused the proposed care, at which juncture the child was taken into the protective custody of the State, allowing for the needed medical care to be provided.  While the patient was ultimately determined to be healthy, plaintiffs sued a number of parties, including the defendant physician represented by Ms. Duke and Mr. Hall.  Plaintiffs asserted a number of claims, including a Section 1983 claim for interference with parental rights.  Plaintiffs’ claims were rejected at trial, and the Ninth Circuit ultimately affirmed the verdict, stating that: “If anything, the completed record shows that Dr. Macdonald exercised his best judgment in an emergency setting in favor of ensuring an infant’s safety from the very peril that caused her mother to take her in the middle of the night to a hospital emergency room.