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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Rebecca Williams Peterson’s and Jay Scott Peterson’s parental rights to S.A.P. were terminated in November 2002. On June 8, 2001, Rebecca gave birth to S.A.P. at a hospital. That night or the next day, Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services workers came to her room as she was nursing her newborn, told her to stop breastfeeding her son, and said that she would not be able to take him home. Rebecca said that they did not explain why, except to allude to the department’s involvement with her two older children, to whom her parental rights were previously terminated. Scott was not present at the time but found out later that the department would be taking his baby. He also testified that they did not tell him why. However, caseworker Tiffany Gonzales testified that they had received a hotline phone call. She said that it is departmental policy to tell the parents why their child is being removed. The emergency removal notice listed “Risk of Abandonment” as the reason for removal. TDPRS took physical custody of S.A.P. at the hospital on June 11, 2001. About two weeks later, Rebecca and Scott received letters from TDPRS, dated June 21, 2001, stating that the department had ruled out any allegations of abuse or neglect by Rebecca or Scott against S.A.P. Nevertheless, after S.A.P. was removed from his parents, TDPRS offered them services with the stated goal of family reunification. These “offered” services became court ordered. Scott and Rebecca participated in these services and voluntarily took parenting classes and participated in private parenting counseling and religious, pre-marital counseling. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Rebecca and Scott argue about the effect of virtually identical letters that they each received dated June 21, 2001. They argue that the department, having sent the letters, should have been estopped to bring the termination proceedings. The letters, which differed only in that one was addressed to Rebecca Williams and one to Jay Peterson, stated that the department had ruled out any allegations of abuse or neglect by Rebecca or Scott against S.A.P. The broad concept embodied in the doctrine of estoppel is that a person who by his speech or conduct has induced another person to act in a particular manner ought not be permitted to adopt an inconsistent position, attitude, or course of conduct to the loss or injury of such other. In the Interest of Moragas, 972 S.W.2d 86 (Tex. App. � Texarkana 1998, no pet.). The doctrine of equitable estoppel requires 1. a false representation or concealment of material facts; 2. made with knowledge, actual or constructive, of those facts; 3. with the intention that it should be acted on; 4. to a party without knowledge or means of obtaining knowledge of the facts; 5. who detrimentally relies on the representations. Johnson & Higgins of Texas Inc. v. Kenneco Energy Inc., 962 S.W.2d 507 (Tex. 1998). The principle of estoppel is ordinarily not applicable to the state or governmental unit exercising its governmental powers. City of Hutchins v. Prasifka, 450 S.W.2d 829 (Tex. 1970). However, Texas courts have recognized an exception to this rule, in exceptional circumstances, where the application of estoppel is necessary to prevent manifest injustice and will not interfere with governmental functions. In this context, “injustice” requires some inequitable conduct by the party sought to be estopped. Dallas County Flood Control Dist. No. 1 v. Cross, 815 S.W.2d 271 (Tex. App. � Dallas 1991, writ denied). The court believes that Scott and Rebecca have satisfied the elements of equitable estoppel and concludes that the department should have been estopped to bring this proceeding. OPINION:Vance, J.; before Gray, C.J., Vance and Reyna, JJ. DISSENT: Gray, C.J. “This is another case in which this court creates and applies an artificial and unnecessary distinction between civil cases generally and a case involving termination of parental rights. The court’s earlier efforts to make such a distinction were rejected. In the Interest of B.L.D., 113 S.W.3d 340 (Tex. 2003); In Re: A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355 (Tex. 2003); In the Interest of A.F., 113 S.W.3d 363 (Tex. 2003); In the Interest of K.N.R., 113 S.W.3d 365 (Tex. 2003); In the Interest of J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256 (Tex. 2002). In doing this not only do we err, but we also do a disservice to the bench and bar by creating uncertainty in the law. Further, we do a disservice to this child who is entitled to stability at the most critical time of its development.”

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