Lawsuit Accuses Queens Hospital of Kidnapping Newborn in Violation of NY State Human Rights Law

default author image02.21.2024

QUEENS, NY –  Crumiller has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Long Island Jewish Medical Center (“LIJ”) alleging hospital staff illegally kidnapped a healthy baby boy while they conspired with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to remove him from his mother’s care.

The lawsuit comes one day after a proposed class action was filed alleging ACS routinely uses coercive tactics to unlawfully search parents’ homes in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

On July 7, 2023, Plaintiff Thalia Gonzalez gave birth to a healthy boy, identified in the complaint by the pseudonym J.G. However, as soon as LIJ workers learned that Gonzalez was a survivor of domestic violence and had multiple children in foster care, LIJ staff immediately began taking steps to prevent Gonzalez from caring for or even visiting her newborn baby. Unbeknownst to Gonzalez, an LIJ social worker called in a report to ACS, triggering ACS’s involvement and the family court process to determine next steps.

On July 10, LIJ staff discharged Gonzalez but inexplicably refused to discharge J.G. even though there was no medical justification or court order. LIJ staff then told Gonzalez that the hospital could not discharge him because of her open ACS cases. Gonzalez left the hospital empty-handed, sat in her car, and cried.

On July 11, when Gonzalez went to visit J.G. so she could nurse him, a social worker abruptly snatched him from her arms and demanded she leave the hospital immediately — again, without a court order, and in direct contravention of ACS’s directives. Adding insult to injury, the social worker then physically cut off Gonzalez’s visitation band with a pair of scissors.

On July 12, an emergency court hearing was held seeking the return of J.G. to his mother’s care. The Court admonished ACS for its behavior and confirmed that Gonzalez still had every legal right to visit her baby in the hospital. But even that didn’t stop LIJ — Gonzalez immediately returned to the hospital, only to be refused entry just days after giving birth. She would never bring J.G. home; in the weeks that followed, J.G. was placed in the same foster home as his older sisters.

The case is Thalia Gonzalez et al v. Long Island Jewish Medical Center et al, Case No. 703854/2024 in New York State Supreme Court, Queens County.

Statement from Julia Elmaleh-Sachs, Senior Associate at Crumiller P.C.:

“This case is emblematic of a long and shameful history of biased hospital employees weaponizing the ACS process against anyone whom they believe is unfit to parent. From the moment LIJ staff discovered that Ms. Gonzalez had children in the foster care system and a history of intimate partner violence, they treated her like she was a danger to her newborn. They literally ripped her baby from her arms just days after she gave birth to him. All Ms. Gonzalez wants is to be a mother to her children and her experience at LIJ has left her severely traumatized. We hope this lawsuit sends a message to NYC hospitals that they must treat all patients in their care with equal respect and dignity — and that no one should be prevented from visiting their newborn baby without a court order to that effect.”

Read the complaint:

Media Contact:
Jacob Eidinger, Director of Marketing & Communications
(212) 390-8480