Landmark Appellate Victory for Exemplary Parents in Complex Medical Case Challenging Abuse Diagnosis

Jun 24, 2013, 14:04 ET from Family Defense Center

CHICAGO, June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Family Defense Center announces a major victory in the Illinois Appellate Court late last week, winning a hard-fought exoneration of loving parents of a child whose intracranial bleeding and leg condition had been determined to be abuse by the child abuse pediatrician and other doctors at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. The decision has been hailed as a potential precedent for families whose children have rare, unexplained medical conditions that can mimic abuse.

The Appellate Court unanimously rejected the Cook County State's Attorney's "constellation of injuries" argument, saying the State had the burden of proof to show that each injury was due to abuse.

The appellate justices wrote: "The expert medical opinions do not sustain a finding of abusive causation. The parents' experts offered medical, non-abuse explanations as to their specific areas of expertise. The proponents' experts testified using the 'constellation of injuries' theory and, therefore, speculated and generalized about the possible mechanisms causing the injuries in areas outside of their expertise. The proponents' expert . . . and the trial court, assumed . . . a connection between head-related findings and the suspected fracture even though there was no basis in evidence or law for this conclusion."

The couple had lost custody of their 5-week-old son and older daughter in June 2011 after the infant had seizures, and was found to have bleeding in the space surrounding his brain and retinas. The child's birth had been traumatic, with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. In June 2011, his parents took him to Lurie after the boy began exhibiting odd behaviors such as twitching, staring and sudden high-pitched screaming.

The parents are upper middle class professionals from India. No one disputed that the parents are loving and attentive to their children.

Redleaf praised Center staff attorney Melissa Staas and the family's private trial counsel Ellen Domph for their outstanding presentation of very complex medical testimony.

"Without knowledgeable attorneys and outstanding medical experts able to counter the assumptions that children with multiple but rare conditions are abused, these loving parents who could not explain all of their child's medical conditions might not have been vindicated."

Media contact: Shawn Taylor at 312-371-6260 |

SOURCE Family Defense Center