The Madeleine Brand Show for July 9, 2012

New car seat ruling could mean big changes for California parents

Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Getty Images/Cultura RF

A California Supreme Court car seat case ruling last week could radically change consequences for parents who neglect to use car seats for their children.

A ruling by the California Supreme Court last week could have sweeping consequences for parents in this state. The court ruled that if a child dies while being driven without a car seat, social workers have the right to remove any other siblings from the home.

The case was brought by a Los Angeles father who lost his 18-month-old daughter in a car crash. She had been sitting on her aunt's lap in the front seat when another car ran a stop sign and smashed into them. Child welfare services then placed his two other children in foster care and he sued.

But last Thursday, the court upheld the authority of L.A. County to remove his children. The ruling said even if he wasn't criminally negligent, the circumstances of his daughters death were enough to trigger intervention.

We take a look at what this ruling means for parents in California.


Thomas Lyon is a professor at USC's Gould School of Law. He specializes in legal issues related to child abuse and neglect.

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