National Brain Injury Awareness Month: Noah's Story
Jaclyn Burke will never forget what transpired on Aug 31, 2010—the day she gave birth to her son Noah.
She remembers the difficulty with her labor, the prolonged absence of her doctor from the delivery room, an intuitive sense of something being horribly wrong, and the few precious minutes she had with him after his birth—while holding his tiny hand—before he was airlifted by helicopter to another hospital better equipped to save his life. Nor will she ever forget the one haunting question that no one had an answer to: “What happened to my baby?”
She will also never forget the shock, fear, confusion, and heartbreak she experienced when she finally learned—after weeks had passed—that Noah was suffering from HIE and cerebral palsy, and he would be a quadriplegic. He would need continual care and costly medical attention for the remainder of his life.
Now, Jaclyn not only needed someone who would be able to find out who was responsible for Noah’s condition and hold them accountable, but also someone to help her and her husband find a way to provide for their son while facing the daunting obstacles and harsh realities that lay before them.
Finding an Advocate
A family member referred Jaclyn to Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton because they were well known as the leading medical malpractice law firm in the area, and also one with tremendous experience and success handling birth injury/birth trauma lawsuits. After contacting the firm, she met with Shay Samples and Ashley Peinhardt, who would be the attorneys handling her case.
When Jaclyn first met with Shay and recounted Noah’s story, he told her he believed there had been medical negligence and that he was going to take their case. In her words, “My first impression of Shay was that he was a very kind, compassionate, and discerning man. He made me feel like he really cared about all of us—as a family—and how we were all impacted by what had happened.”
When Jaclyn met Ashley, she felt an instant kinship with her, almost as if she were her sister. She was particularly struck by how strong and confident they both seemed and how deeply committed they were to fighting for Noah and her family. She was convinced that they would be able to provide her with the answers, the solutions, and the emotional support she needed.
The Fight for Justice
Hare Wynn filed suit against the nurses, the medical center, and Jaclyn’s obstetrician. A confidential settlement was reached with the nurses and medical center, and the case against the obstetrician will go to trial on April 2, 2018.
Jaclyn says, ”The first settlement took about 4 years. There was a lot of contact with the firm during that time. They always kept me updated and let me know what was happening.” Jaclyn goes on to say that they also made every effort to make things as easy for her as possible, and went to great lengths to accommodate her schedule when she needed to see them in person. She explains, “They were always very concerned with setting appointments that were convenient for us, as it was very difficult to have meetings with a child that is in a wheelchair. They were very mindful of making things as easy on us as possible and this made a really hard process a lot easier. They were so wonderful to us and they still are.”
Attorneys Who Go Above and Beyond
Jaclyn says that Shay and Ashley were incredibly determined to see her achieve the best possible outcome, and they possessed a rare and remarkable ability to instill courage and inspire hope when she found herself overwhelmed, uncertain, or afraid.
The depositions particularly were difficult because they involved reliving tragic and painful events; however, Shay and Ashley were there to comfort and encourage her.
In her words, “They gave me the strength to get through it. Furthermore, I don’t believe I could have gone through any of this without them. I am particularly grateful to Ashley for her incredible compassion. I felt like I was going through this entire process with a sister who was with me every step of the way. She understood what I was going through and helped me to feel confident because she was so confident—they both did—and they made me feel capable. Their attitude was always, ‘You can do this.’ I continually felt like I was surrounded by family and we actually consider them family now. They are truly wonderful. They helped me stay focused and they are helping me get my baby what he needs and what he deserves—there are just not enough good things I can say about that. I just want to make sure he gets the care he needs for the rest of his life. That is everything when all you care about is your child and his wellbeing, and Hare Wynn is helping us get to that place. I will be forever grateful to them. Hare Wynn is a firm you definitely want on your side. It is hard to feel like you can trust someone after something like that has happened to you—but I trusted them. I put a lot of faith in them and they did not let me down—they did not let us down—and they came through for us in every possible way. We are in a better position after settling with the hospital, but Noah still has so many needs. He needs help. We need help.”