The lawyer told us a story last night, to illustrate his understanding of how unsatisfying wrongful death cases are.
He represented a woman whose husband drove a flammable gas truck for a living. He was driving it up I77 when it exploded. He was vaporized. They found parts of the truck engine a mile away.
The wife won a seven figure verdict.
When the "award" was announced, she just sat there, she didn't smile and she didn't say anything. Following the trial, when they would talk to her, she would never ask about the money (when it would come, etc).
She's in her 60's and she was going to retire with her husband this year.
She pursued and won the "justice" that was available to her...for her husband.
But it won't bring him back. Her life will never be how it was supposed to be.
The lawyer seems concerned that our case has to be able to "make" enough to make it worth the time and energy (and money). I told the lawyer I understand his need to be able to make a living. But for me, this is about the next pregnant woman who walks into that office...so she will get paid proper attention. He didn't laugh at me when I said it, so I have a better feeling about him than I did going into our meeting.
I do wonder about other women. I wonder how many women have to suffer through this pain because their doctor dropped the ball...but because the legal standard wasn't on their side, they get no justice, no apologies, nothing to assure them that the doctor has learned from their mistake. The legal system is all about money...and not what is right. And it apparently leaves doctors to self-regulate. I think you know my opinion on the job they're doing with that.
So we have to prove three things...
1. Breach of standard of care--I think we've got that one covered.
2. Proximate cause--the doctors' inactions directly caused Alex's death--a medical "expert" will have to render an opinion on this--a preliminary opinion indicates there is at least something there worth looking at.
3. Damages--we will have to put a dollar value on Alex's life. Here's where my difficulty lies. There IS NO dollar value to Alex's life that would satisfy me. I'm not so concerned with his earning potential (he could have worked at McDonald's his whole life)...I'm concerned with that intrinsic value that comes with life itself. Sure, he may have been a freeloader his whole life...but he would be ALIVE. It seems this is a concept the law cannot satisfactorily grasp.
Here is where I get political...turn away if you have sensitivities to differing opinions in this area...
How can the conservative platform advocate that all life is precious and then advocate for limits to recovery for a baby's life? Out of one side of their mouths they say that life is irreplaceable...out of the other, they say that my son't life had no value because he was "just a baby." I was ok in the meeting until the lawyer started talking value. I was ok until he said that there is no adequate way to determine Alex's "worth." How do I explain what it is worth, in dollars, to spend a sunny afternoon filling up the swimming pool with your child? How do I market price the value of knowing that my son is sleeping soundly with a full belly in the bassinett next to me, instead of in a grave up on the hill? How do I quantify, into dollars, the missing laughter, the missing hugs and kisses, the missing piece of my heart? It's all about earning potential these days. Those intangible things like emotions and mental well-being seem to have been discontinued and are simply not available for sale.
If they decide not to pursue the case, I know that at least I tried. And if they do decide to pursue the case, I know that I will find hollow justice for Alex at the end of the road. Don't you wish you were me? I take comfort in knowing that maybe my voice will be heard by someone somewhere. And the next pregnant woman who walks into that office will be paid attention to the way she should.