Children are precious. In our society, we view children as precious and irreplaceable. Unfortunately, not all people appreciate the responsibility that comes with delivering children into the world. A New York Injury Lawyer said it is heartbreaking to learn of the tragedies that befall some children. In one case, that was heard by the Family Court in Washington County on December 10, 2008, a seventeen year old mother was charged with neglecting and abusing her two month old infant daughter. The girl became pregnant by an older boy when she was in high school. She delivered the baby and returned to school. Care of the baby was shared between her family, her father’s girlfriend, the father’s family, and the father. The mother had at first lived with her own mother while she was expecting the baby, but when a fight broke out between them that involved the mother’s mother physically assaulting her, she returned to her father’s house.
The mother still lived at home with her father and his fiancé. The father lives with his parents. The infant lives primarily with the mother and her father and her father’s fiancé. The child is shuffled between the two families throughout the day. The child’s father often drives the child’s mother to school or picks her up from school to transfer the child. On January 30, 2008, the father of the child collected the mother from school and they both took the infant to her well-baby check-up where she received two vaccinations in each leg. That day and into the evening hours, the baby was restless and fussy. The mother later testified that the baby often had trembling episodes that sometimes lasted for an hour. She stated that the baby would become limp or vague as if she had just drifted off somewhere. The next two days were spent primarily with the mother since there was a heavy snowfall that kept the mother out of school for the next two days.
On Friday following the shots on Wednesday, the mother’s father took her to the Glens Falls Hospital to have an interview for a job. The baby stayed in the car with her grandfather while her mother went in for the interview. By this time, according to the mother, the child had exhibited a fever, fussy behavior, vomiting, and lethargy which the mother states she had associated with the vaccinations. The grandfather did not notice anything wrong with the child in the 45 minutes that they waited in the hospital parking lot in spite of the fact that he is a medical doctor. Following the interview, the mother returned to her boyfriend’s house with the child. The mother and father of the child, left the baby with his parents and went out for the evening to the fire department where the baby’s father volunteers. They returned to the boyfriend’s house at around 10:30 at night. When they got there, they noticed that the baby had begun to projectile vomit and looked like she was having seizures. They woke up the baby’s father’s mother who drove them to the emergency room with the child.
The family reported to the doctors at the emergency room that the onset of symptoms had begun the day that the infant had gotten her shots. They stated that it was their belief that the baby was having some sort of reaction to the shots that she had gotten 48 hours earlier. Upon examination of the infant by the emergency room doctors, she was immediately transported to Albany Medical center because Glen Falls Hospital did not have an pediatric intensive care unit. Several tests were run that caused the doctors to have a dire outlook for the infant’s survival. It was 5:00 a.m., on the morning of February 2, 2008, when the infant arrived at Albany Medical center.
The condition of the infant following the examination at Albany Medical center showed that she had retinal hemorrhaging, two subdural hematoma, and two healing rib fractures. Of primary concern to the physicians was the fact that the infant had two oval bruises on her chest in the proximity of the broken ribs. One oval thumb sized bruise on each side of her tiny chest. The ribs had just begun to heal and the bruises were showing signs of yellowing. Both signs were significant because they showed that the injury to the child was less than one week but more than one day from the time that the child was brought into the emergency room.
The doctors were also concerned with the reaction that the mother had to the information that the child’s injuries were not related to the injections. The record states that she registered what is referred to as a flat effect. She did not register any emotion at all. She was neither crying or showing any great concern for the welfare of the child. She only cried when she was informed that the child was going to be placed in the care of the Department of Social Services.
The doctors stated that following their examination of the infant, they believed that she was demonstrating classic symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. The retinal detachment was examined by a specialist, and the family was informed that the condition of the retinas in a recovery mode, demonstrated a window of injury that placed the day of the vaccinations right in the middle of it. As more information was revealed, information came to light that at around three in the morning the morning following the vaccinations, the mother called her boyfriend to complain that the baby had been crying constantly since one in the morning and she did not know what to do. As they spoke on the phone, the child’s father stated that he could hear the baby crying in the background.
While it may seem easy to guess that on the night of the vaccinations, the child was fussy and refused to sleep. The young mother was left alone to handle the situation when she had to get up in the morning to go to school. Some may assume, that at some point, she became overwhelmed and shook the infant causing the bruises on her chest, the broken ribs and her retinas to detach. A Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer said that swelling began in the baby’s brain that triggered seizures. However, that would be speculation. The reality is that medical science cannot pinpoint the exact date or time that the infant was injured. In the period of time between January 30th when she was seen in her physician’s office, on Wednesday, to the time when she was taken to the emergency room, on Friday night, someone shook the child.
The reason that we can only apply that window of time is that the pediatric nurse who checked the child on Wednesday and then gave her the vaccinations, stated that she examined the infant thoroughly. The infant did not have any bruises and was a happy, healthy two month old child. So the infant was unharmed at the time that she was seen in her doctor’s office on Wednesday. On Friday night in the emergency room, she demonstrated classic symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. The only problem being that the symptoms were in a recovering stage. That showed the doctors that the injury did not happen on Friday. However, they cannot say for certain precisely when the injury did occur. In this particular window of time, all of the people listed above had access to the baby. It is impossible to say for certain exactly who shook the baby.
However, the investigation began into the matter in conjunction with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. The investigation led to the mother being interviewed several times. During these interviews, she stated different time tables. In one interview, she stated that on Wednesday night the child was fussy, she fed her cleaned her up and then tried to feed her again at eleven. A Brooklyn Personal Injury Lawyer said that she gave the baby Tylenol and that the baby finally went to sleep at one in the morning. She stated that the baby woke up again at three and that she changed her , fed her, but that the baby did not go back to sleep until around five in the morning. She stated on another interview that she did not try to feed the baby at eleven and that the baby was having shaking episodes. She called the baby’s father to tell him that the baby was fussy.
One concern came to the forefront in this investigation. The mother never took the baby for medical care in the two days from the first onset of symptoms. Further investigation revealed that the mother had spoken to older more experienced parents during this time period and described the baby as having trembling or shaking episodes and phasing out episodes that could last up to an hour. She stated that the baby seemed limp and was not as active as she usually was. Both times, these more experienced parents told the girl to take the baby to the doctor. When she was asked by investigators to explain why she did not call or take the baby to the doctor, she stated that she had just not had time. She stated that she was not worried about the symptoms because she thought that they were related to the vaccinations. She stated that she did not worry until the child began projectile vomiting and would not stop.
The investigators determined that a normal concerned parent would have taken the baby to the hospital or at the very least, called the doctor about the troubling symptoms that the child was having. There was no explanation as to why the girl did not wake her father on the first night of symptoms. Her father is a medical doctor, the question that troubled most of the experts in the courtroom was that her father had not noticed anything wrong with the baby even though he had been alone with the baby for 45 minutes that Friday before she was taken to the emergency room. The mother’s father was not called to testify in court, so that issue remains a point that is not settled.
The other troubling points remain that there were a number of different times when the infant was alone with almost all of the people who were her normal caregivers, and the father’s sisters. However, the investigators determined that the child is the responsibility of the mother. The mother failed to provide a logical reason that she would not have taken the baby to the hospital. The mother registered a flat effect at the hospital and afterward. The investigators decided that the mother must have been the person who shook the child. She was charged and convicted of child abuse and neglect.
The child underwent numerous brain surgeries, but she recovered. She was placed in foster care. There was no reason provided in the documentation of the case to reveal why she was not placed with a family member. She remained developmentally stunted by approximately six months following her recovery at the time of the trial two years after the incident. The prosecutor ‘s case rested on the fact that the mother had failed to obtain care for the child in spite of the obvious medical issues that would cause a child to have tremors, seizures, fever, and vomiting.
At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, New York family attorneys can help you determine what you need to do to clarify your claims, whether they involve a head injury, back injury, or medical malpractice. We are located in convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. A New York criminal lawyer can review your case and how best to defend you.