This post. How many times I’ve considered writing it. How many times I’ve thought about what I’d say or how to even begin to share how I feel. I’ll start with some background and go from there.
I’m my previous post, Justice for Finley (An Update), I shared that we had received documents to sign that outlined what our lawyers found as the main points of negligence in my delivery and in Finley’s short life.
Basically, the negligence came down to five main points:
- Failure to interpret the data on the Fetal Monitoring Strips that showed that Finley was in distress
- Failure to call and perform the emergency c-section in a timely manner
- Failure to perform a competent neonatal resuscitation
- Failure to administer the proper medications needed
- Failure to set the ventilator at the proper settings for a neonate
If you’d like to read the entire defence, which goes into great detail, I’ve shared the main portion of the lawsuit document here, with names of those involved removed. It is difficult to read. It is impossible to fathom how so many things could have gone wrong, in just the right way, for Finley to end up dead. A perfect storm. It’s hard for me to think about how frightening it must have been for him. It’s nearly impossible for me to think about the fact that they were slowly killing my son as I was next to him, not really knowing that it was happening. I think of the fact that I couldn’t protect him from this, and it makes me feel like the worst parent in the world. You should be able to trust doctors to take care of your children. You should not go into a routine situation and come out with a dead child. It should not happen, not ever. And certainly it should not have happened to us. Finley’s death was so preventable.
Our claim was submitted to the US Navy, and then was passed to a team of doctors in Italy to investigate. The law in our situation was very complex. Too many countries involved, too many laws. Even though we were suing the United States, it was the Italians who would do the investigation. And even though we were suing the United States, we were not able to do it in the same way that we could have done had it happened on American soil. We were not entitled to having our case brought before a judge. I didn’t get the opportunity to hear the explanations of those who were involved, didn’t get to look into their eyes and find out if Finley’s death was killing them as much as it was killing me. And at the end of it all, it would be at the discretion of the US Navy itself to decide if we were to be awarded a “win”.
We didn’t get to hear about why a government branch of the United States was able to sweep a negligent death under the carpet. The United States Navy’s head unit hadn’t even been informed of Finley’s death. It wasn’t initially investigated. It happened, and those who were in charge in Italy managed to cover it up. It was only my prodding, my inability to “let it go”, that put this on the Navy’s radar. That isn’t fair, and it shouldn’t have happened. I truly feel like if they had been open, honest and had apologised, we wouldn’t have gotten to the point of needing a lawsuit. Instead we were left to wonder, left not knowing what happened to our precious child, and that pushed me to a place that I didn’t know was inside of me. A place where I could fight against what I believed to be unrealistic odds, for my son’s life to have meaning. How do you sue the United States of America? How do you get them to admit that they were wrong, when they’ve managed to cover it up until this point? Well thankfully we had experienced lawyers, though even they didn’t believe we had great odds. All I really wanted was an apology.
We managed to file the claim days before our Statute of Limitations was expired. We almost didn’t make it. It is incredibly important to know your rights. I’ve learned that much. And then we waited. And waited. And waited.
We finally received news that there would be a settlement. The Navy would settle a monetary value, though they would never truly admit fault (you can click to read the settlement wording). It was the best we could do. They don’t pay out that kind of money for no reason, and I knew that it had been investigated and that it had been taken seriously. Hopefully it would mean that changes were made to the processes and protocols that Navy hospitals, especially the one in Naples, follow.
It took me a long term to come to terms with the fact that we’d be receiving a large sum of money. I didn’t want to feel like I was being paid off for Finley’s death. No amount of money would replace him. No amount of money could make the fact that he isn’t here okay. I tried to look at the money as a way to try and better our lives. Surely we deserved that much after all we had been through?
The money was transferred into our bank account on the same day that I went to Arizona to attend the MISS Foundation’s Selah retreat. I think being in that retreat, surrounded by others who understood my grief was a good place to attempt to come to terms with what was happening. I feel like I was finally able to start healing. I had accomplished what I set out to do – be a voice for my son, and the other babies who’s lives are tragically ended without reason. I had managed to find justice at last.