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Brownsdale parents challenge ruling in infant's court-ordered protection

ST. PAUL — The parents of a Brownsdale infant born with HIV have filed an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals seeking to reverse a Mower County District Court ruling that the boy was in need of protection.

Judge Fred Wellmann ruled May 6 in favor of the county, which had argued that the parents — Lindsey Nagel and John Martinez — could not be trusted to comply with doctor recommendations regarding the administration of drugs to treat HIV. County supervision of Rico Martinez Nagel was extended until July 18 during a disposition hearing earlier this month, though the parents remain in custody of the child.

The parents requested a new trial on May 15, but that motion was denied on May 21 by Wellmann. That decision prompted Nagel and Martinez to take their dispute to a higher court.

Attorney Scott Cody, of Tarnish & Cody PLC law firm in Chaska, filed the four-page appeal about two weeks ago. The appellate court is awaiting copies of the full transcript from the April 1-2 court trial in Mower County District Court before establishing a timeline.

"Basically, we raise two main issues — a legal issue and a factual issue," Cody said. "Whether the court used the correct law to make its decision, and whether the evidence supported the decision in either case."


The issues stem from a series of incidents shortly after Rico was born on Dec. 19, 2012. Doctors claim Nagel did not identify herself as HIV-positive prior to giving birth, which led to controversy in the hospital when doctors sought permission to administer HIV medication, notably AZT, to the child.

Nagel, 22, and her parents have been critical of AZT due to their past experiences. Nagel was diagnosed with HIV as a child and experienced serious side effects when placed on the antiretroviral medication. She stopped taking the drug and survived, which has led to their belief that the risks of the drug outweigh the benefits.

Nagel and Martinez began a trip to the West Coast in January in search of a more favorable doctor's opinion for Rico, but turned around after reaching North Dakota. That trip caused the family to miss two required appointments at the hospital.

Upon return to their Brownsdale residence, Mower County officials arrived to remove Rico from the custody of Nagel and Martinez. The emotional scene was captured on video and is among the many things posted on the family's website, though they did regain custody based on Judge Wellmann's May ruling.

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