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Proving Shaken Baby Syndrome Caused by Abusive Parents Proves Challenging

As medical experts who care for children, one of the responsibilities bestowed upon pediatricians is spotting signs of abuse in their patients. In fact, pediatricians are considered mandated reporters. Over several months, a baby fell victim to abuse by one of their parents. The infant was squeezed on their upper torso, pulled by the legs, and suffered brain damage from being violently shaken. The child's legal guardian was determined to seek justice for the abuse, but several attorneys declined to take the case. Upon learning about the extent of the child's injuries, Christopher Keane of Keane Law Firm was determined to help in any way possible.

Proving that the child endured recurring abuse posed a significant challenge. The symptoms of shaken baby syndrome don’t look the same for all victims. And while bruising in toddlers can be caused by various bumps and slips, it’s typically a warning sign of abuse in infants that can’t walk yet. Despite showing glaring evidence of maltreatment, the baby’s pediatrician failed to notify child protective services. Because of this lack of reporting, Chris needed to trace back to determine a chronology of the baby’s abuse. From there, he established how much time had passed and how many missed opportunities there were had CPS received a report.

The Defense pushed back on Chris’s finding as soon as he filed the lawsuit. For instance, they asserted that the damages were low because the baby didn’t exhibit obvious gross motor problems. To counter the onslaught from the opposition, Chris enlisted a pediatric neurologist to assess the child's sustained damage, as well as a pediatric psychologist to evaluate the irreversible harm. Then, to provide a proper timeline and visual representation of the baby’s damages, Christopher reached out to DK Global to create a reconstruction animation highlighting the injuries' dates and how they occurred.

First, the animation showed the abuser squeezing the baby's chest, resulting in bruising and broken ribs. A timeline beneath the reconstruction indicated when the first instance of abuse occurred. While the animation played, an overlay demonstrated that no reports were made to child protective services despite the bruising. Next, the baby was shown on a changing table with the aggressor approaching and forcefully yanking the child's legs, causing multiple fractures in the femur and metatarsal bones. Finally, the animation showed the mechanism of injury as the abuser violently shook the child, resulting in fractures around the clavicle, retinal hemorrhaging, and irreversible brain damage.

Christopher presented a settlement demand package encompassing the timeline animation and depositions of the pediatric neurologist and psychologist. After some deliberations, the Defense ultimately agreed to settle the case for a favorable confidential amount.

Christopher Keane of Keane Law Firm is a licensed attorney in Michigan and California, with over 30 years of experience advocating for child abuse victims. He has been consistently recognized as one of the "500 Leading Plaintiff's Lawyers in America" by Lawdragon Magazine. In addition, Christopher is a distinguished American Board of Trial Advocates member and has served as president of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. His dedication to fighting for justice on behalf of vulnerable children has earned him numerous accolades, including California's prestigious "Street Fighter of the Year" award by CAOC in 2017. As a solo practitioner, he has recovered over $65,000,000 in compensation for his clients.

"I think DK Global has done it better than anybody I've seen, and I've practiced all over the country. I think their videos are outstanding and the team is outstanding."
Christopher Keane - Keane Law Firm
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