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Posted on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

Ann Arbor family's custody ordeal over mistaken alcoholic drink order for son sparks federal lawsuit

By Juliana Keeping


Christopher Ratte of Ann Arbor temporarily lost custody of his son in April 2008 after unknowingly giving him an alcoholic drink at a baseball game.

A Michigan law that allows the government to take a child without proving the child is in immediate danger is unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan argues in a federal lawsuit filed today.

A 2008 case in which authorities took a 7-year-old Ann Arbor boy from his parents after his father unknowingly gave him a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park in Detroit sparked the move.

Leo Ratte, then 7, was attending the game with his father, Christopher, a classical archaeology professor at the University of Michigan on April 4, 2008. A security guard notified police after Christopher gave Leo a Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Leo was taken to Children’s Hospital while police question his father, who said he did not know the drink contained alcohol. The hospital found no alcohol in Leo’s blood. Nevertheless, Wayne County Children's Protective Services, a division of the state Department of Human Services, took Leo from his parents and kept him until April 7.

His mother, Clair Zimmerman, is also a professor at U-M. The school’s child advocacy clinic helped secure the release of their son. The case was later dismissed.

“This experience was traumatic for all of us,” said Zimmerman, a professor of art history and architecture at the university, in an ACLU press release. “If the University of Michigan had not helped us, it could have taken weeks to get Leo back. It’s tremendously important for us to challenge this law so that no other family has to deal with the lasting effects of having a child unjustly removed. We tried for three years to convince the legislature to fix the law, but when the bill did not get a hearing, we had no choice but to file this case.”

Child advocates pushed for bill called “Leo’s Law” to address the perceived flaws in the law, but it never got off the ground. The lawsuit states the Michigan law is illegal under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 7:36 a.m.

@ Bill Wilson I listened to Dan Schmidt. Although I knew the DeBoers, and felt terribly for them, and for Jessica, I found it extremely troubling that the arguments made against the Schmidts centered primarily on economic and social status differences. If not for those differences, I think anyone would be hard pressed to tell the couples apart. It was a bad case all the way around. Here is an interesting link: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 7:09 a.m.

Responding to this statement from OnTheRight: &quot;Since they are such great parents, they should have no problem discussing the situation with their son and helping him understand that everyone was looking out for him and just trying to keep him safe.&quot; I don't know what kind of parents these are, however, I can tell you that I have had to have this conversation (more than once) with one of my children who tends to find himself on the short end of adults' good intentions. I think over the long haul it has helped him to see how, as humans, we all make mistakes, and that no matter the age, nobody is perfect. So, he has grown into a teenager who is forgiving of others' shortcomings. However, as a young child I think that it created unnecessary fear, confusion and distrust of adults and those in authority. This mix of distrust of authority and confusion regarding the judgement of one's own parents is extremely difficult for young children to reconcile and has a lasting effect.


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 6:51 a.m.

I didn't feel the need to comment until I read this: &quot;Just because the parents are profs at the U doesn't automatically make them wonderful parents. There would be outrage if this kid was in fact being abused but social workers failed to follow-up because he had parents who talked their way out of an investigation (because we all know that someone with a job like a university professor could never hurt a child.....).&quot; OnTheRight, this is exactly why I am so heartened to see Christopher Ratte and Clair Zimmerman, the ACLU and UofM take this on!! Because they have that status that so many others who find themselves in this situation do not have. They are investing their time to protect other families - many who undoubtedly will not have the same kind of status that they have - from this same kind of misdirected action of the state. These presumably intelligent adults did not just slink away, embarrassed by not knowing alcohol was in a lemonade because the slang word &quot;hard&quot; was on the label. They instead have put themselves out there and have invested their time and energy in correcting such overzealous actions so that those with lesser resources will not have it happen to them. So I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by Donna, and, David Paris: &quot;I am grateful that Leo's parents are using their resources and knowledge to take this further. If this can happen to a child of U-M professors, we can only image what happens to families without such resources.&quot; &quot;I love to see Draconian laws like this one challenged, and over turned. Christopher Ratte and Claire Zimmerman are Heroes! Thank God for the ACLU and the U of M.&quot;


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

I don't know exactly how the law reads and therefore don't know whether it needs to be repealed or simply modified. This incident clearly should not have happened. And I am among the ranks that believe kids should be able to learn to drink at home from their parents without the parent being afraid of ending up in jail. I am, however, amused by how many people believe that France has a lower rate of alcoholism than the US. Not so. They have quite a high rate of alcoholism, at one time leading the world in that respect.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Note that this would be perfectly legal in Wisconsin (or Texas). A Michigan resident can go to a restaurant or bar in Wisconsin with their minor child and the child can legally drink. Happens all the time in the U.P. along the Wisconsin border. Wonder if the state knows?

Bill Wilson

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

Couple of things here: One, we do need a system that looks after the rights of children potentially in danger, however, we may do well to make the system less arbitrary. For example, if we had an automatic ten-day observation period that allowed for the parents to have their own advocate with an equal voice in the proceedings, that might go a long way toward quelling the fears of those involved in these situations. Secondly, I'm a bit confused by many of the responses here. Most of Ann Arbor had no problem whatsoever turning a deaf ear to Dan Schmidt when he attempted to obtain custody of Jessica. The argument made against him was that the DeBoer's had more resources than he had, and thus, could provide a better home for the child. Certainly, the state has much more money than Mr. Rattle does, and thus, could provide a better home for the child. What's with this sudden respect for a father's rights in these type of matters?


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

Just read the story about a 31 year old man dying in a car accident on I-94 and two thoughts came to mind: 1: almost 1/2 the comments were removed because they violated A2.coms policies, they were abusive probably. People need to grow up. 2: The man died, probably because he did not wear a seat belt. One is bound by law to wear a belt, by the NANNY STATE! Just think, the mans kids would still have a father if the dread nanny state were heeded. Sometimes (most often) laws are put in place for a reason, not as so many here assume, to control peoples lives out of some draconian desire on the part of public employees .

Steve Pepple

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

A comment containing a personal attack has been removed.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

I think this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding these types of branding and product issues. Remember how the &quot;Joe Camel&quot; character was used by Philip Morris to entice younger kids to start smoking? Well, Mike's Hard Lemonade and other beverages containing both alcohol and caffeine are being marketed using the same strategy... while the product appears perfectly safe for kids, it is actually loaded with alcohol! I love a good hard cider (I'm over 21), but never picked up a Mike's Hard Lemonade because, well, I thought it was a kids product. Just saying, instead of more laws why not hold manufacturers libel for their miss-branding?


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 10:23 a.m.

I remember this case, and frequently cite it in conversations about social status. I am grateful that Leo's parents are using their resources and knowledge to take this further. If this can happen to a child of U-M professors, we can only image what happens to families without such resources.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 5:14 a.m.

This is a profound over reaction by the State and this law must be changed.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:44 a.m.

In Germany you are 16 and able to drink. At 18 drive. At 21? Vote. So what is the big deal folks. I agree, give em a sip or two at home. This will certainly keep em out of the liquor cabinet or binge drink at someones house. Good grief folks. Look at what countries are doing and they do not have the problems we here Americans do have. Americans have their panties all twisted. Time to untwist and get real.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

In my opinion, this is another example of what happens when we end up with a CPS system full of &quot;save the world crusaders.&quot; DHS needs a complete overhaul. This department has too much power, and the citizens of this state need to act immediately to get laws established that will level the playing field. It seems to me that parents are automatically guilty until proven innocent, and that is not what being a United States citizen is about.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

&quot;World crusaders&quot;? Who granted these people working within the State of Michigan, and local governments these &quot;rights&quot;? Apparently, the majority of uninvolved voters, whom over the years, w/ a desire to make things &quot;right&quot; in their fashion, have elected folks whom have now taken away &quot;our&quot; rights. Tyranny. Lost of personal liberties. The nanny state has got to go.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

This underscores the complete lack of common sense that is so prevalent in law enforcement today. The fact that this kid was taken away from his parents is the most ridiculous thing I've heard in quite some time. I hope they keep the suits coming until this stupid law is changed.

Ann English

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:20 a.m.

I had no idea that when people buy alcoholic drinks at Comerica Park, they're not asked for any identification. Apparently they're not asked for any if they're at the Milwaukee Brewers' ballpark, no matter how young they look.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

Only an unworldly Ann Arbor academic would not know that Mike's HARD lemonade was an alcoholic beverage!


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Golleee, Macabre is actually an unworldly academic! Who woulda thunk it! Constantly amazes me how fast people jump to conclusions in order to justify their preconceptions. Stereotypes save time. People need to grow up.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 11:58 a.m.

I actually thought it was a kid's lemonade. I brew Beer.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 1:47 a.m.

I only know because I asked a friend when she was ordering it in a bar. I mute all the commercials when I watch television, so I had no idea about the marketing. I've tried it since, and it's disgusting stuff - like those wine coolers that were so popular in the '80s. Did the kid in question even take more than a sip? They said no alcohol was in his blood.

David Paris

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

I love to see Draconian laws like this one challenged, and over turned. Christopher Ratte and Claire Zimmerman are Heroes! Thank God for the ACLU and the U of M.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11:23 p.m.

Just because the parents are profs at the U doesn't automatically make them wonderful parents. There would be outrage if this kid was in fact being abused but social workers failed to follow-up because he had parents who talked their way out of an investigation (because we all know that someone with a job like a university professor could never hurt a child.....). Better safe than sorry, even if it embarrasses or inconveniences the parents. Since they are such great parents, they should have no problem discussing the situation with their son and helping him understand that everyone was looking out for him and just trying to keep him safe.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

@ OTR &quot;Since they are such great parents, they should have no problem discussing the situation with their son and helping him understand that everyone was looking out for him and just trying to keep him safe.&quot; What! The lingering effects of all life's traumas' can't be undone by &quot;discussing the situation&quot; with the victim, especially when its a 7 year old.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

This isn't about the inconveniences to the parents, it is about a 7 year-old being taken from his family and being in custody of protective services for days!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

I wonder if a parent with a different profile might not be chastised for not knowing what she was feeding her child? My UM ethics professor once said, &quot;Life is a heads up game.&quot; Though the state over reacted, and even the security guard could have checked out the situation, I might expect more people to urge the Dad to be more alert.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

If you've ever had an experience with the state you learn quickly there is an omnipotent power complex and a belief they can do no wrong and it's your job to prove yourself to them. This goes double when it comes to child protection and custody. We will never hear an apology from a state agency or agent for what they do. The incident was quite simple and they had to turn it into a bureaucratic power struggle. In the process caused far more stress and harm to the child, and parents, than anyone with a reasonable mind could have envisioned possible. The one thing the state agencies care about more than anything else is their power and the public's submission to that authority. This is a clear example that the child was not the first concern. If it was the incident would have ended once the child's blood was checked. Instead it's become a long drawn out legal battle costing a lot of suffering and money because they have the need to protect their power. They should apologize to the child and parents for causing unnecessary stress and suffering, and to the people of Michigan for wasting their money and abusing their authority. I have beach from property in Arizona to sell you if you believe that will ever happen.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Across the lake this most likely wouldn't have happened. Interestingly, in Wisconsin, a parent may lawfully serve their child alcohol.

Fat Bill

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

One must be very careful when you override the contstitutional right to due process. Immediate danger means just what it sounds like. This U-M professor was unlikely to take the child and flee the country, and I doubt anybody in this forum finds his actions particularly dangerous. If you give them the power, there is always going to be somebody that overreaches their authority. Had I been the security guard, I would have pointed out to the dad that Mike's is cool-aid flavored booze, and if his reaction matched his story, I would have left it at that. Common sense!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

I think it is quite reasonable that a professor might not know that Mike's Hard Lemonade was an alcoholic drink. Many brilliant folks score quite low on social IQ and the things ordinary people know. If the father was young enough that the clerk had to card him before selling him the &quot;lemonade&quot; that probably would have triggered something so that the father realized he was buying an alcoholic drink. But, maybe not. After all the price of Mike's Hard Lemonade is more expensive than soft drinks as well. That would have caught my attention.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

My brother-in-law mistakenly served Mike's Lemonades to people at his own house, not knowing it was alcoholic (his wife knew when she bought them, but she wasn't around when he served them). So it has happened. And all the marketing departments for these beverage companies know it. That is why they actively marketing fruity alcoholic drinks that they know appeal to kids (of course, they insist they are &quot;only selling to adults&quot;). MyOpinion's comment about the price normally would be on target, except that everything at Comerica Park is so expensive, I doubt Dad would be able to tell anything from the price!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:14 p.m.

Ironically, assuming Mr. Ratte could raise a reasonable doubt that he knew the beverage contained alcohol, he could not be found guilty in a criminal court of furnishing alcohol to a minor. This case is a good example why we need the ACLU safeguarding the rights of the public against constitutionally questonable legislation.

Matt Cooper

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

Actually, he doesn't have to raise any doubt at all. Matter of fact, he wouldn't have to put up any defense at all if he didn't want to. It would be on the prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the father &quot;knew&quot; that Mikes had alcohol in it. It's very difficult to prove what someone knows or doesn't know, especially in a case such as this.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Yes the State overreacted and acknowledged that it did ...but isn't time, for the kid's own welfare , to move on and &quot;put this to bed&quot; ,in this particular case ?? Better overzealous ( but willing to backtrack)child welfare agencies than one &quot;afraid to get involved for fear of the ACLU&quot; , (whose judgement is far from infallible).

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:07 p.m.

disagree here. The serious flaw in the law is still there and needs to be rectified. I tip my hat to the ACLU on this one. They gave the State legislture ample time to fix the law and the failed to do so.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

Agreed, Mr. B.

quiet observer

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

This case is not about serving alcohol to a minor. It is about removing a child from his or her home and family when there is no immediate danger to the child. The trauma inflicted on this young child by the system was stupid and inexcusable. The ACLU is right to step in to protect future children and their families from an overzealous system that has the capability of inflicting great harm on kids.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

Like the drug lifer law, which snared quite a few minors.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Just think, if the vendor in the stand had carded Dad, and Dad's light bulb above his head went on, we couldn't have this lovely discussion. This never would have happened at Kroger.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:10 a.m.

You've never bought beer at Kroger then.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Dad looks too old to get carded.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

For all the hip shooters in this discussion: This is an excerpt from 436.1701 &quot;Alcoholic liquor shall not be sold or furnished to a minor. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) and subject to subsections (4), (5), and (6), a person who knowingly sells or furnishes alcoholic liquor to a minor, or who fails to make diligent inquiry&quot; The operant word here is knowingly. So it is not illegal in every case to furnish liquor to a minor.

Basic Bob

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

Matt, reasonable doubt applies to conviction, not questioning, arrest, or intervention.

Matt Cooper

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:30 a.m.

I'm wondering if you can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, Bob, that the professor did in fact &quot;know&quot; that Mike's had alcohol in it. Can you? If you can, buddy you oughtta be the new county prosecutor. Criminal convictions are not gained based on assumptions. In the words of Plato &quot;Assumption is the mother of ignorance&quot;.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:17 p.m.

You are very correct. I do not see Mr. Ratte as criminally culpable, but the standard is different in a child protective proceeding.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

A university professor is assumed to be ignorant and uninformed about Mike's Hard Lemonade? In my mind, diligent inquiry would include reading the label.

zip the cat

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

Good luck getting any $ from anyone. I agree the law sucks. but your wasteing your time and $ sueing anyone in government. Plus if you lose,guess what You get stuck with there legal bill.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

The ACLU gets stuck with any legal costs, not the litigant.

David Briegel

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

Just another of the prudish, pseudo Christian &quot;values&quot; that have no bearing on our real life! The cynical, nasty remarks about the parents are absurd! As if they would ever do anything to harm their child. As if any of you would NOT make a federal case if it happened to you! And the silly treatment of alcohol is one of more foolish aspects of our societal norms. That is why there is more binge drinking and abuse. If families would socialize their children into the moderate use of alcohol there would be much less confusion and abuse.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:16 a.m.

Just for the record, forbidding of alcohol is not a specifically Christian value. Christian sects differ on this issue.

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

Top Cat, How about that!? I always enjoy your comments! Roadman, I almost mentioned the French but I didn't wish to have to discuss Freedom Fries or the liberators of Libya!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

The French culture teaches its youth respect rather than abstinence, David, with regard to alcoholic beverages and you will find their rate of alcohol abuse significantly lower than in the U.S.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

I don't like the law, either. HOWEVER, why should we treat a well-educated affluent citizen different from an unemployed single mother? Change the law, or follow it. Both social drinkers and alcoholics are likely to learn everything they know about alcohol from their families. Some learn moderate social drinking from their parents, others learn how to be good church-going alcoholics.

Top Cat

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

We agree !

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

In Michigan, it is illegal to give your child an alcoholic beverage. There is no exception for 18-year-old &quot;minors&quot; to drink in private with their parents. So it is certainly illegal to give your 7-year-old child. People who do this routinely get there children taken away from them. Unless you are a professor employed by the nanny-state. Then it is so unexpected and traumatic that they need to make a federal case out of it.

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:29 a.m.

Bob, you know I never advocate for &quot;the privileged&quot; but this is ridiculous in the extreme! Get off your nanny state professor insult and smell the coffee, puhleeze! What they did to that child was unforgiveable!!

Matt Cooper

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

Routinely? Based on what information? What study? Or is it just your opinion?


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

Agree with Donald. Learning to be responsible starts with the parents at home, not at a kegger or frat party in college.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Why don't we fix that? Why do we have binge drinking college students? Some will always exist, but how many less would we have if it were legal (and EXPECTED!) that parents teach their kids to drink responsibly?


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

@treetowncartel a quick internet search would have told you all you needed to know about the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Michigan's law school. The parents who you appear to view as privileged people taking advantage did nothing of the kind. They turned to experts in a frightening situation.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

I said i thought, not sure what part of that was hard to understand. Maybe they could offer their services to John Skelton, he sure could use some legal help.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

Where's the common sense! This kid was traumatized over a stupid mistake that did not injure the child (no alcohol in his blood). Could not some common sense have intervened, and let the kid go with his parents. Talk about over the top nanny-state laws.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

Happens every day Andys! Police can go into your wallet, seize your cash on the pretext it has a link to illegal drug activity and you have to sue to get you own money back. This is a variation of that theme.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Common sense has been long gone since both the left and right have become polarized. Need more independents that travel down the middle of the road gathering the best from both sides.

Top Cat

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

Nothing that happened justified the child being separated from his father for any period of time. If the law is at fault, it needs to be repealed.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Or declared unconstitutional and unenforceable by a United States District Court judge.

Morris Thorpe

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

Please.. no more (kid's name) Law.

Morris Thorpe

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.


Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

I vote we enact Rodney's Law - no more naming new laws after people.

Morris Thorpe

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

That was the case that started this trend, wasn't it? So it get a pass. But it's become a thing now. This one is over the top. Leo's Law? Megan's Law was to honor her. To make her death not in vain. This one, though, seems, well, vain!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

What about Megan's Law?


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

@ Ignatz, it is a little over the top for sure. On a side note, I thought you had to qualify financially for legal services from an organization like that. Maybe you get a free pass if you are two professors at the U though.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8 p.m.

i believe that the university offers legal council to all of it's employees. You just don't have to use it.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

I was talking about the U of M legal clinic, not the ACLU.

Rob T

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

The ACLU will engage in any case where the organization feels civil liberties are threatened. My favorite example of this is when they filed a motion on Rush Limbaugh's behalf asking to keep his medical records confidential when he was being investigated for illegal prescription drug use. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Rush certainly wasn't in trouble for money, and I know he's no fan of the ACLU.

Atticus F.

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

When I was a child, my grandma let me take a sip of her wine once. glad these type of laws wern't around in those days.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

There are parents out there today that still believe a shot glass full of beer or wine is ok on occasion. Trust you me, it happened to me and I am ok with this statement. Plus there are PC cops out there that think they have to tell parents what to do and how to do it. Relax PC Cops we are doing fine without the intervention. Good grief.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

Fortunately, law enforcement was not around or else you both could be charged.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

I find it difficult to believe that the Dad didn't know what was in Mike's Hard Lemonade, but even if he did the state overreacted by taking the child away. A little adult beverage is nothing compared to the stress of being taken away from your parents.

Marc Williams

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

@kfolger The linked story also states the beverage was sold by the bottle. The labeling would have made it clear what was inside if only Mr. Ratte had read it.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

News reports at the time of the incident said the sign where the dad purchased the drink simply said &quot;Mike's Lemonade&quot;.

Marc Williams

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

It is difficult to believe, but not impossible. I doubt many people know what makes a soft drink soft or even have the curiosity to wonder why it's called a soft drink. The &quot;hard&quot; in Mike's Hard Lemonade means it contains alcohol. The key word is right there in the name. Just as the &quot;soft&quot; in soft drink means it does not (it also means a bit more, not all non-alcoholic beverages are considered to be soft drinks, bubbles are usually involved). Regardless, it was an overreaction and should have never played out the way it did.

5c0++ H4d13y

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

I got carded once buying Diet Coke for my mom. The clerk though it was a case of light beer.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

Oh I believe he didn't know- my husband got one thinking it was lemonade and his only comment was it was too sweet. That was years ago, but it's quite conceivable! Imagine his horror...! Poor kid had to get a poke for that, too. Miserable situation. Sorry for the child and his parents. Too bad the security guard didn't just say &quot;hey...Didja know that has alcohol in it?&quot;


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

I did not know Mike's had alcoholic content until I heard of this incident.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

I don't drink alcohol and I had no idea what it was.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

If I recall news reports at the time the family does not drink. If you don't purchase alcoholic beverages and don't pay attention to ads for alcoholic beverages how would you know hard lemonade meant it had alcohol in it.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

@Ignatz, there is book smart and street smart. The term &quot;hard lemonade&quot; is learned on the street, not from a book. He may have been deprived of learning this.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

Do you honestly think he knew it was an alcoholic drink? I seriously doubt it.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

The state's actions are the result of a CYA paranoia that they will get sued if they don't follow the letter of the law in every instance. That paranoia is fueled by today's litigious society that will sue for anything and everything. Imagine what would happen years down the road if this child was injured due to alcohol - the state could be sued for negligence for not intervening when they had the chance!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

The State of Michigan has enacted governmental immunity legislation that protect it from such lawsuits.