Sitting in Superior Court in Wilmington, Delaware last Tuesday, as I watched Judge Joseph Slights III hear evidence at the Fairness Hearing, all I could think about was the children.
This was a case especially close to my heart. You may remember when the media first broke the story a couple of years ago. Former Delaware pediatrician Dr. Earl Bradley was accused of sexually abusing over 900 children. It was the worst case of single perpetrator sexual abuse in the history of our country. As you also may know from the regular coverage of the story, Dr. Bradley has since been found guilty in the criminal courts and is doing jail time.
Today’s case, however, was the follow-up for the civil courts, a class action lawsuit filed by the families of the victims against Beebe Medical Center, the Medical Society of Delaware and independent physicians. It enabled families of the victims to receive funds as a result of the severe emotional trauma they suffered.
Judge Slights approved $123 million. Of that amount, $119 million came from six different insurance companies covering Beebe Medical Center, $3 million from the Medical Society of Delaware, and $1 million in free medical and mental health care from the hospital for the victims.
It was a case that was 16 months in the making. Originally, I was approached by a fellow attorney in Georgetown. Two or three of the victims had come to him, but he didn’t typically handle class action suits. We quickly realized there were many more victims. Ultimately, Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. would come to represent about 350 victims, the largest number of plaintiffs of all law firms involved in the case.
It is humbling when so many parents put their trust in you, especially in a time of such pain and need. All of us at Schochor, Federico and Staton considered it an honor that we were asked to be the advocates for these families in such a tragic situation.
Seeking the most efficient resolution of the case and to bring about a swift closure for all the victims, we chose mediation. To say that it was an emotional journey for all of us is an understatement. In preparing for the mediation, we interviewed each family to document the extent of the abuse. It was an emotional process and made us even more resolute to achieve justice for our clients.
Now that the hearing is over, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. And while it was truly an historic settlement, that’s not the most important part. We achieved an extraordinary result for our clients under very difficult circumstances. Now they will have a chance to start the healing process.