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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Adoptive Parents Say Doc Traumatized Them

MIAMI (CN) - Adoptive parents say a doctor, apparently distraught at his own divorce, refused to hand over their 2-day-old baby unless they "agreed to purchase a plane ticket for the birth mother to visit their daughter and only if plaintiffs agreed to return their daughter to the birth mother when she reached her fifth birthday."

Alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, Nicole and Bienvenido Olivencia sued Dr. Felipe A. Caballero and Tenet Hialeah Healthsystem dba Hialeah Hospital, in Miami-Dade County Court.

The Olivencias say they traveled from their home in Virginia to Hialeah Hospital in Miami to bring home the baby they were adopting.

On Aug. 9, 2009, they say, they met Caballero, the doctor in charge of signing the 2-day-old baby's discharge papers.

"Felipe A. Caballero M.D. examined the newborn baby girl and determined her to be a well baby and signed the discharge at approximately 11:00 a.m.," according to the complaint.

Then, the Olivencias say, they met with the adoption agency social worker to begin the paperwork and accompany the social worker to the nursery, where custody of the child would be transferred to the social worker.

"When plaintiff and the adoption agency social worker arrived at the nursery Hialeah Hospital, employees informed then that defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. had wrongfully taken plaintiff's daughter outside the nursery and into a separate room without medical facilities for newborns," the complaint states.

The Olivencias say they "found defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. holding their daughter and rocking her with the lights off without their consent, against their will, contrary to Hialeah Hospital policy and procedures and in violation of his duties.

"The adoption agency social worker advised defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. that she required the plaintiff's daughter. Defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. ignored the adoption agency social worker and yelled at plaintiffs, ordering them into the room demanding they answer his questions. Fearing for the well-being and safety of their daughter who defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. was wrongfully holding captive at this point, plaintiffs complied.

"Defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. while continuing to hold plaintiffs' daughter captive and against plaintiffs' will began a verbal assault and personal offensive improper interrogation of plaintiffs, questioning their fitness as parents and insulting them, thereby causing severe emotional distress by his verbal abuse and their growing fear of potential harm to their daughter," according to the complaint.

The Olivencias say Caballero "threatened to call three different lawyers to prevent the adoption if his questions were not answered to his satisfaction.

"Eventually, defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. outrageously stated he would approve the adoption to plaintiffs only if plaintiffs agreed to purchase a plane ticket for the birth mother to visit their daughter and only if plaintiffs agreed to return their daughter to the birth mother when she reached her fifth birthday."

The Olivencias say they "were intimidated and coerced into" agreeing to Caballero's demands because they were "(d)esperate to have their daughter, distraught concerning her safety and fearing the adoption process was jeopardized ...".

The complaint adds: "While attempting to leave the room, defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. continuing his rant, stated to plaintiff Bienvenido Olivencia that he didn't know why a stupid woman had divorced him and went on to express dissatisfaction with his own personal custody situation and then ordered everyone back into the room, yelling at plaintiffs to close the door and demanding they answer further questions."

After that day, the Olivencias say, Caballero "continued to intentionally cause emotional harm" by "interfering with, jeopardizing and attempting to derail the adoption process, including, but not necessarily limited to:

"a. Visiting the birth mother at least two or three occasions after her parental rights were terminated for purposes of halting the adoption;

"b. advising the birth mother to reconsider the adoption;

"c. slandering plaintiff Nicole Olivencia by telling the birth mother she was not a fit parent;

"d. disparaging plaintiff Nicole Olivencia by ethnic slur against non-Hispanic women stating they, and she, are not fit to be adoptive mothers ... [and]

"g. on or about August 12, 2009, defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. with the assistance and cooperation of defendant Hialeah Hospital communicated with the adoption agency and advised them that plaintiffs needed to bring their daughter back to Hialeah Hospital notwithstanding the well baby determination made by defendant Felipe A. Caballero M.D. August 9, 2009."

The Olivencias seek punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They are represented by Richard Katz of Coral Gables.

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