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State of Michigan Seizes Boy after Father Gives Him Mike's Hard Lemonade, Unaware it Contains Alcohol


A couple temporarily lost custody of their son after the father accidentally bought him an alcoholic lemonade drink at a baseball game.

When Christopher Ratte bought his son Leo, 7, lemonade at a Detroit Tigers game, he did not expect to face an accusation of negligence and lose his son to foster care.

Ratte, a professor of archaeology at the University of Michigan, purchased a beer for himself and a bottle of lemonade for his son, not realizing that the lemonade was actually Mike’s Hard Lemonade, an alcoholic beverage.

A stadium guard approached Mr. Ratte during the ninth inning, and asked Ratte if he knew he was serving his son liquor. "You've got to be kidding," he replied, trying to read the bottle. But the guard “snatched it before Ratte could examine the label,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

Leo Ratte was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance after complaining of minor nausea. Blood tests revealed no trace of alcohol in his system.

Child Protective Services (CPS) of the Michigan Department of Human Services took Leo into custody and refused to let him speak to any member of his immediate family for three days.

According to a lawyer who aided the Ratte family, Don Duquette, “The Michigan standard for the emergency removal of children from their parents does not reflect current constitutional law on a federal level, which requires proof of immediate danger to a child.”

Ratte later stated, “I feel that this was a massive overreaction to our case, and I think that everyone would have to conclude that.” He and his wife have filed a formal complaint with the CPS ombudsman’s office.

Meanwhile, several states are drafting legislation that would make drinks of this type, known as “alcopops,” less accessible to minors.

2008 Apr 30