Justice for Jordan: A Mother’s Story
By: Nicole Carter
I’m now a single mom with three kids. Jordan is my youngest. I gave birth to Jordan in a Tennessee hospital in 2005, and that day changed my life. Since I have diabetes, I was going to a specialty clinic for high-risk mothers and having the non-stress test done twice a week. When Jordan’s test at 38 weeks showed he wasn’t moving in response to the buzzer (acoustic stimulator), they put me in a wheelchair and took me to the hospital for delivery.
That was between 10 and 11 a.m. I lay around waiting. I just tried to stay calm, for the baby’s sake. My husband and mother were with me, and they tried to stay calm too, to keep me from getting all stressed out. I’m not the kind of person to make a scene. But inside we were all worried.
The plan was to do the delivery before 3:30 p.m., even though my baby was in danger. The excuse they gave was that because I had eaten breakfast, they wanted to wait six hours from when I had eaten. However, they didn’t even deliver my baby at 3:30 p.m. They missed their own deadline and didn’t deliver him until 4:49 p.m.
Getting Answers for Jordan
I ended up having a C-section. They put me under to do it, so I wasn’t awake when Jordan was born. But I learned later it took doctor’s 30 minutes to revive him. By the time I got to see him he was in the NICU and covered in tubes. He had an IV in his forehead, a tube in his nose. They had to massage his stomach to make him urinate. He didn’t function at all. When the doctor came in to see me after the delivery, he told me that Jordan was fine, but that he may have some issues in the future, they just couldn’t tell. When he was three weeks old, they told me because he had water between his skull and his brain, he was probably going to have cerebral palsy. I knew something wasn’t right. We kept asking, but nobody could give us any answers. They were all so vague. Probably because they knew I was angry and thinking about filing a lawsuit.
Finding a Lawyer Wasn’t Easy
First I talked to some local lawyers, but nobody was willing to take the case. One female lawyer I talked to twice on the phone asked me to meet with her. But when I walked into her office, she asked me who I was. Really? Obviously, I didn’t hire her. Then I contacted a law firm in Chicago who said we had a case. A month later we got a letter from them saying they were not going to take the case and that we should stop looking for a lawyer. So I started looking at lawyers far away. I found Janet, Janet & Suggs. They had a track record of taking cases like mine and winning – cases other people said weren’t winnable. Eight years later we had a jury verdict for $33 million.
Coming to Terms: “I Wasn’t at Fault”
Howard Janet was lead trial attorney. Sitting in the courtroom hearing the evidence he was putting on made it clear to me that I hadn’t done anything wrong – that nothing I could’ve done would have changed the situation. I wasn’t a doctor. I wasn’t at fault. I’d been carrying a load of guilt around for years that maybe there was something I could have done to prevent what happened. I felt like a huge burden had left me. When I heard the verdict, I was overwhelmed and confused. You try and try and think you’re never going to get there, and suddenly you are.
Jordan has braces on his legs and uses a wheelchair and a walker to get around. He can’t talk, but we can understand him. He’s developmentally delayed, but he’s already really good at using a touch screen to communicate and play games. I used to sell insurance and work 40 hours a week, always feeling guilty about what I wasn’t doing for Jordan or my other kids. My husband left after Jordan was born. Now I can give Jordan the time he needs, and my other children, too. I massage Jordan’s legs in the morning. After he comes home from school I take him for a walk on his walker. Now Jordan doesn’t have to worry about anything in his future. He has everything he needs to live up to 100% of his potential. Right now my goal is to get him more aggressive therapy so that maybe he can walk someday.
“My Faith Got Me Through”
Jordan laughs a lot. He loves his brother, sister and music. He always sings along in the car. His laugh is so contagious. He’s fun to be around. One of the things the money will let me do is get a new house so that he can get around using his wheelchair, and he’ll have space to play. My faith is what has gotten me through. I’ve grown a lot since Jordan was born. I’ve been able to see that God really cares. The settlement we received is an awesome blessing, but more importantly, so is Jordan.