TOMBALL, Texas - It's been a never-ending nightmare for one Tomball family after their children were taken by Child Protective Services, but now a Harris County judge has ordered CPS to pay the family more than $100,000.
He is also telling CPS to stay away from the family and is ordering the entire organization to undergo training.
Happy, healthy, bouncing his tiny heart out, for 9-month-old Mason, a fall at home escalated beyond explanation.
“The accident and injury in and of itself was already a nightmare," said Melissa Bright, Mason's mother.
It started back in July. Bright sat Mason down on a chair. She turned to help 2-year-old Charlotte when he fell off.
With two skull fractures, doctors had a hard time making sense of it, so they called CPS.
“He had to have rolled or flipped or fallen, maybe bounced. I don’t know what happened exactly," Bright said.
But Bright says they went along with CPS orders voluntarily.
The kids were put with family in Baytown while everyone tried to help Mason heal.
But the back-and-forth between homes wasn’t working, so when CPS stopped returning their calls, the family decided it was in their son’s best interest to take him home.
Bright says they told their case manager, and for 22 days, the kids were home.
Then one night, CPS showed up, and under emergency orders, took the two kids.
“It was deafeningly quiet in our home," Bright said.
It was then the parents sought legal help.
After subpoenaing CPS records and communication, Attorney for Mrs. Bright, Dennis Slate, and attorney for Mr. Bright, Stephanie Proffitt, found inconsistencies and falsifications, including a statement in which CPS claimed they did not know the children were at home.
The attorneys took these before a judge where Slate says the case manager pleaded the fifth, and his supervisor couldn’t offer much more.
“It’s not just a mistake. It’s not that they didn’t make the right call, and OK, we’re checking it with the courts. It was we know we’re not making the right call, and we’re going to violate someone’s constitutional right to raise their children by removing them based on our lies," Slate said.
The family’s attorney took these before a judge where he says the case manager pleaded the fifth, and his supervisor couldn’t offer much more.
“At least a 100 times, she responded with, 'I don’t know. I can’t remember. I can't answer your question. I don’t understand your question,'" Slate said.
A day after the judge’s order, the family is home together again.
The case is dismissed, but their need for justice is far from.
“How is CPS so protected that they can get away with actual crimes that other people would be held accountable for?” Bright asked.
The parents say they don’t believe either of the employees should work with children ever again. CPS released a statement saying they are still employed, and "CPS is reviewing the ruling and looking at all options including their right to appeal."