January 26, 2007 Dealing with Professionals: Death of a Troubled Child – French Smith

Dealing with Professionals: Death of a Troubled Child – French Smith
November 25th, 2006 . by The Grief Blog
HEALING THE GRIEVING HEART
Dealing with Professionals: Death of a Troubled Child
Host: Dr. Gloria Horsley
With guest: French Smith
January 26, 2006

G: Hello. I?m Dr. Gloria Horsley. Welcome to Healing the Grieving Heart. Before we start our show today, I?d like to deal with several emails that I?ve received. One of them is from a chapter leader in Houston, Texas, and he has bought my ten CDs of my first ten shows and he says that they?re excellent but one of the issues is that they?re long so he has trouble playing them in a chapter meeting. I just wanted to mention that if you do buy the CDs through The Compassionate Friends or looking at my website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org, that there are three stops in them so you can go into the CD in three different spots so you might consider that. He also wanted to know what?s the simplest way to have people download the program on suicide or teens. The best thing you can do right now is probably go to my website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org. I have the shows on the front of the first page and you can click on archives and then you?ll have to scan through the names of all the shows and I?ve tried to say what the show is about in the name of the show.
The next email we?ve received is from Sherry and she says her 20-year-old son died five months ago and she?s been trying to declutter her life and reading books on meditation and she would like to have a dream about him and I believe she went to a psychic and the psychic told her that he?s trying to get in touch with her son and what I basically say to you, Sherry, is five months is not a long time and I would challenge any of us to declutter our mind or to be able to meditate in that time because it?s been my experience and others that I?ve worked with that we?ve got a really racing mind going on so give yourself a break and give yourself time. I always say to everyone that you do hold that child in your heart. They?re really with you all the time. On January 5, I did the show with Carla Blowey and we talked about dreams and I would suggest that, Sherry, you might want to go to the website, click under the archives, go to the January 5 show and listen to the show where we talk about dreams. Thanks so much for your email, Sherry, and good luck to you.
The next one we?ve got is Howard who said that he?d picked up the show. His daughter Susan was killed in a car accident and he has a lot of issues with guilt and anger. He?d listened to the January 19 show with Bob Baugher where we talked about anger and he wanted to know when it was going to be replayed. He couldn?t pick it up right away. Well, the shows are played on specific times. You can see them on my website for three days and then they do go on the archives so be patient if you?ve heard a show that you loved, Howard, or that you found was really helpful.
I want to thank you all for your emails and keep them coming because I think a lot of us have these issues and they just focus on the issues that we all have. Well, I hope Howard is listening to the show today because oftentimes the anger that we have is directed to those we hold responsible for the death of our child. This can be directed inwardly at ourselves or outwardly at others. When I do presentations on loss and anger, a high percentage of those attending have anger directed at the medical community. Issues of malpractice and malfeasance are often a topic of discussion. Going after medical malpractice often leads to long drawn-out court cases which can result in defendants blaming the victim. This personality attack on the deceased?s loved one is a painful process for family members. The decision to pursue a lawsuit even if it is clearly warranted is a tough one. The desire to punish those involved can be a strong motivator. Punishment is often not realized though due to out-of-court settlements. It can be a lot of frustration and anger and it can linger for years at those you hold responsible and oftentimes they continue to work in their chosen field. There are a variety of choice points that we are going to consider today. The first is how do you decide whether to pursue a court case? A second question is when and why would you accept an out-of-court settlement? A third question is how does one deal with the results and accept the verdict? How often are medical professionals and others really punished and is there a real satisfaction in that process? What is your motivation? It is my experience that there are few, if any, individuals who have lost a loved one that find monetary gain satisfying. When it is over and the court doors are closed, what then? Where do we go? How do we deal with our anger and outrage? Questions abound. Was it worth it? Did I find satisfaction? Did I save another person from harm? Was it worth the toll it took on my family? My guest today has been there and will discuss with us the issues of Dealing with Professionals: Death of a Troubled Child. Please join us on our show today by calling our toll-free number, 1-866-369-3742, with questions or comments regarding the losses in your life. You can also email me through my website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org. These shows are all archived on www.healingthegrievingheart.org and www.thecompassionatefriends.org websites. Well, today our topic is Dealing with Professionals: Death of a Troubled Child, and my guest is French Smith. French is a friend and a national board member of The Compassionate Friends. French?s son, Stephen, died in 1999 at age 23 of unexplained anaphylactic prescription drug reaction due to medical errors. Because medical personnel tried to cover up the true cause of death, Stephen?s body had to be exhumed. This began a father?s journey to find the cause of his son?s death and to hold doctors accountable. This is a powerful story of courage, determination, and a father?s love for his son. Joining us later on our show is going to be Stephen Brewer, a litigation attorney practicing in Oakland, California, with the law firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer. Over the past 25 years, Mr. Brewer has handled hundreds of malpractice and malfeasance cases. French, welcome to the show today. I?m so happy to have you on.
F: Good morning.
G: It?s great to talk to you. Where are you right now?
F: I?m in Louisiana.
G: So you?ve got that great southern accent. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. I know it?s going to be helpful to a lot of people out there. Could you tell us about Stephen and what happened?
F: Well, Stephen was 23, and he got in the fast lane and had gotten involved in drugs and had gone to a substance abuse clinic. They actually prescribed a drug inappropriate for him that was not protocol and he laid down and had a reaction and went to sleep and it stopped his heart.
G: Now how did you find out about that? When he died, what did you think?
F: When he died, we really didn?t know. We were just puzzled.
G: And what a horrendous shock to have to go in.
F: I found him in his bed. I went down and checked on him and he was dead in his bed.
G: Now was this at the clinic or at your house?
F: This is at our house. He had gone to the clinic and they administered the drug to him and he had come home and laid down and just had the reaction, stopped his heart, and he died.
G: Now you were telling me that he?d been really working on becoming drug free and had not been using.
F: He had worked hard. He went to a three-month rehab and he had been out for about six months, eight months, and he had a relapse and somebody had told him that this was a place he could go and get help but it ended up not being that way.
G: So then what happened? You found him.
F: We were told that somebody else had died from that clinic and that?s when we started our investigation.
G: Now, who told you that?
F: A friend of mine that knew another child that had gone over there. I say a child, it was actually a doctor?s brother that had gone over there. They prescribed him methadone and Stephen had gotten involved with cocaine so he really was not a candidate for methadone, but they gave it to him anyway.
G: Now how did you pursue this? How did you find out? So you heard that somebody else had died, then what did you do?
F: Somebody else had died and I went and talked to my attorney and we looked over this case, the facts, and we decided it would be worth pursuing.
G: With an attorney, though, you got to look at the medical records.
F: We actually had to get the state police to go get the records. They wouldn?t release the records because you?re supposed to take a urine test and if you test positive to opiates in your system or hydrocodones, then you can take methadone to wean you off the heroin. Well, they had not waited for Stephen?s urine test to come back. They sent it to California and they just automatically started him on methadone. The end result we found out, Stephen had nothing in his blood so he overdosed with methadone is what happened. It was totally against protocol. He should have never been given the drug.
G: Now you?re very educated on this right now. I can hear that you understand the words, the protocol, all the different things. Tell us about your confusion at the beginning.
F: Well, we didn?t know. We knew he?d went to the substance abuse clinic. He went to a professional clinic the first time for three months. Stephen was looking for the silver bullet, something that could help him today, and that?s why he was accepting to take whatever they wanted to give him if they told him it would help, and I think a lot of these methadone clinics are unscrupulous. They?re just out there for the money end of it. We didn?t know until we found out that this physician?s brother had gone over there and was also a cocaine addict and had died from taking methadone. Then we knew something was wrong and our death certificate came back and basically said he died a natural death, a seizure, so we knew right then something was wrong because Gloria, methadone has a 48-hour half life and when Stephen?s death certificate said that, we wanted the coroner to check his blood that they sent back with his autopsy, and when his blood came back from the autopsy, it tested negative to any drugs, any methadone, so we knew something was wrong because we knew after 48 hours you still have half of the methadone still in your blood. He had none, so we knew something was wrong and so that?s when the attorney petitioned the coroner to exhume his body.
G: Now when did you first hear about that and what did you think about exhuming the body?
F: Well, that was excruciatingly painful. We didn?t want to do it but we knew that something was wrong. Marilyn and I went to Texas. We went outside our state and had a DNA done so we could test the DNA to his blood so when we tested his blood, compared our DNA, it wasn?t his blood. They had sent back somebody else?s blood. That?s why it tested negative. At that point in time, we knew we had to exhume his body to find out what he really died of. And so we did.
G: This is such a courageous story of you and your wife?s going for it. It?s incredible.
F: We sent his body off to another pathologist and we got the results, sent it to a forensic toxicologist at the University of St. Louis. He called and said that he was loaded with methadone. He died from methadone toxicity. He knew where we were going from that point.
G: Thank you, French, and we?ll proceed with that when we come back from our break. Now we?re going to be joined by attorney Stephen Brewer. Would you fill our audience in on how your son died?
F: He officially ended up dying from a methadone toxicity. He was overdosed with methadone.
G: He?d been a drug user but had stopped and had sought treatment and then they overdosed him with methadone. You also found out that this isn?t the first death that they?ve had at this clinic.
F: No, they?ve had other deaths but they kept it quiet so we were unaware of what was going on.
G: Could you fill Stephen in on what happened with the case and then I?d love to get some comments from him.
F: After we exhumed Stephen?s body and we found out the blood that came back from the autopsy was not Stephen?s, we knew something was dead wrong. Once we knew something was wrong and when we found out what his death was caused by, methadone toxicity, that?s when we pursued the case. That was six years ago and what we thought was a cut-dry case became a process of delays, postponements, personal attacks.
G: Basically on your son, right, in the court?
F: Yeah. It delayed because the substance abuse clinic was insured by a company in New York and 9/11 had hit two years later so we were delayed two years because we were not allowed to pursue that particular company that represented the physicians.
G: And you recently settled out of court.
F: We did.
G: And when was that?
F: That was just in November.
G: I know that the judge, can I say what the judge said?
F: Sure.
G: Basically, I think what you told me was that the judge said that he did you a favor by encouraging you to settle out of court because they were really attacking your son?s character.
F: It was a personal attack which my wife was on the breaking point plus we knew that the judge pressured both sides to settle. He didn?t want to proceed with the case so we thought if we pursued it without his favor, then the end result would probably end up bad.
G: By the way, there are two Stephens. Co-incidentally French?s son was also named Stephen. So Stephen Brewer, do you have some thoughts on this case and some help for people who are thinking about suing out there or have settled?
S: Sure. French?s experience is not unusual unfortunately. All too often, in cases involving the death of an individual, especially a young person who?s had some bumps in the road in their life, the defense is not on what was done or what wasn?t done. It becomes a character assassination. Sometimes the character assassination extends only to the person who?s died, but in cases involving very young children, I?ve seen situations where it?s extended to placing blame on the parents. For instance, not calling the emergency room doctor soon enough, not providing an adequate enough history for the treating doctor to make a diagnosis. So it becomes something beyond what the real issue in the case is and it become something very personal.
G: French, did you find that? Did they attack you?
F: They really didn?t attack us personally. They went mainly after my son?s lifestyle. My wife and I said, sure. I think what Stephen said was great. My son did have, he made some mistakes, he was trying to make up for his mistakes, but a lot of times people think well, a child, he should deserve to die because he was an addict. And that?s what hurt us so bad was they took that approach. Your son was a drug addict, you know, he doesn?t deserve.
G: Stephen, do you have more thoughts on that?
S: That is part of the defense strategy. It?s a process where they wear you down, wear you out, and at the end, oftentimes most of these cases do settle, and one of the reasons they do settle is people are tired at the end. They?re tired and fearful of the trial and the potential of an adverse outcome. Here you?ve got a judge who is doing what most intermediaries do, most judges do. They want cases settled. They don?t want to have to try cases if they don?t have to. They will push both sides and they will pressure both sides to settle. I?m not sure what the judge?s comment about doing French a favor, but I think that can certainly be construed that he saved French and the family from the agony of having to sit through a trial and listening to the character assassination that was sure to come.
G: One of the interesting things about this, and French and I were talking about it earlier, is it?s really not about the money and I think sometimes people get thinking that it is, other people besides family members. Because when a child dies, generally with very little pressure you can receive money if that?s what you want. You don?t have to go to court because people don?t want to go to court so they?re oftentimes willing to make a cash settlement.
S: Very rarely do I have people come see me and the first thing that they ask me about is whether or not they can get money for their case. They come because they have questions about what happened to their loved one. Why did the person die? They come with the motivation of never wanting to have it happen again to anybody else. The motivation is rarely primarily about can I get a settlement? Can I get money from this?
G: Right, and French, we were talking about your settlement and about that you did close the clinic. Is that right?
F: We did get the clinic closed down. That was one of the things that was one of our goals. I do want to say, Gloria, what Stephen said, the judge in our case is a real good person and I think he really knew what was in store for us, and he knew what we were fixing to go through. What we were looking for was an atonement to correct a wrong and he knew that that probably wouldn?t happen.
G: I like that thought ? the atonement to correct a wrong. How did you feel after? Getting the clinic closed must have been a certain satisfaction.
F: We were excited because there was a couple other deaths after my son so we knew if the doctor whose son died, he came over to our house and he said, ?If I would?ve gotten that clinic closed down, your son might still be alive today.? So I felt like we needed to try to push to get it shut down and we did.
G: And this is a doctor whose brother had died at the clinic before your son.
F: His brother was a cocaine addict, went over there, they inappropriately gave him methadone, and basically the same result.
G: Stephen, what do you find about people?s feelings after the case? If they close clinics down or whatever, do you feel like that gives them satisfaction? What about anger?
S: I think French?s experience is somewhat unique. The fact that they were able to actually close the clinic down is not the usual outcome. It?s very rare that after a given case that a doctor will lose a license or a hospital will be subject to any sanctions or that a clinic will shut down. People have to understand that sometimes, although that?s the ultimate goal, that?s not necessarily achievable by bringing a suit for the death of your child. The settlements typically are monetary settlements and that?s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you can certainly look at it that settlements are not paid on behalf of doctors who have done a good job or hospitals or clinics who have done a good job. They don?t give money away if they didn?t make any mistakes. They vigorously defend cases. On the other hand, the money no matter how much it is doesn?t necessarily ever make that feeling go away. There?s very rarely ever an apology and sometimes I think that?s really all people are looking for. They?re looking for an apology.
F: I agree with that.
G: We have Garrett calling in from Mississippi.
Garrett: I had a question for French. First, French, let me offer my condolences to you and your family on your loss and applaud you on your courageous journey for the truth. With that being said, French, we know that family members deal with loss and stress in different ways. As the father of the family, how did you help your family deal with the anger toward those who caused the loss as well as at the same time try to heal emotionally in a healthy manner.
F: That?s a great question. First I tried to be there for my family to let them know that I loved them and that I was there for them, and to let them know that the healing process, the hate, the anger only hurts us. The people that did the wrongdoing, they?re not affected I don?t think. But with our family, I have two other sons. We had to go on with our life and we did the best we could to make a right from a wrong and just love them and help them and support them and communicate with them more than anything.
G: I love what you?re saying, but it?s been how many years?
F: It?s been six years.
G: How were you as it happened?
F: Disastrous. All of us were handling it in a very different way. I have two sons. My older son talked about it. Handled it. Cried with us. Our other son blocked it out. He wouldn?t discuss it. Wouldn?t come over to the house. Men and women grieve differently. Women like to talk about it. Men usually bury themselves in work and don?t communicate.
G: And also action. You were taking action about your son, once you got to the lawyer and all that, which would be maybe kind of a male thing, would you think?
F: I think so.
G: Is that your experience, Stephen? Do you see men coming more?
S: No, I really don?t. I think it?s not a gender thing. I really believe it?s more of a matter of conviction. When people think that something has been done to a loved one, it shouldn?t have happened that way, the conviction is what brings them in. I don?t think it?s gender based.
G: I love the forgiveness part you were talking about and Garrett asking you how you dealt with it now. What kind of shape are you in right now, French?
F: Better. It still creeps in. The anger that it happened to me, that it affected our lives. You get angry because it should have never happened. And I will say what Stephen said about the men. Women are willing to start off and fight it, but they?re not as strong. My wife at the end, part of the process of settlement, she couldn?t take any more. She was absolutely on her wit?s end. I thought she was going to have a nervous breakdown. So she couldn?t take the punishment that the trial was starting to give her. Like listening to them disparage your son when you knew he didn?t do anything to deserve to die. She just couldn?t take it. And it was hard on me but I was willing to fight it because I wanted to correct that wrong.
G: Now were you looking to send somebody to jail, was that it?
F: I was really looking for a jury to say and rule in our favor, to say they were wrong and you were right.
G: So that?s what Stephen is talking about is that people want that, but how often do they get it?
F: It?s easy to forgive somebody if say they would have come to us after Stephen?s death and said, ?We screwed up. We?re sorry. We messed up. We didn?t follow the protocol. It slipped by us.? I?m not going to say we still wouldn?t sue. In our case, they did so many things wrong but it sure would have helped.
G: I don?t know and Stephen if you?re aware of this, too, I understand that in the medical community right now, they?re starting to talk about let?s go to the families and talk to them and not try to stiff arm it and that kind of thing because in the past lawyers have said don?t talk to the family and some of the things that I?ve heard that they?ve been talking about in medical school is maybe we should be talking to the family.
S: That?s precisely what is occurring. They are now starting in medical school to teach the medical students, the residents, that they need to have better communication with the families. The studies would tend to indicate that people are less prone to go see a lawyer if they get honest communication from their health care provider about things that have gone wrong or problems that have occurred. So many people come to me because they don?t have that good communication with the doctor. They don?t have the answers, and they?re looking for those answers. I?ve always said that better communication by the health care professionals could save them a lot of grief down the road in terms of lawsuits.
G: And I know we?re doing some arbitration now, too, right? Did you try to arbitrate at all French?
F: Sure. We tried to arbitrate and it didn?t work. It worked with one individual that we were dealing with but the other one, it didn?t. I will say, Gloria, that because I?m in the pharmaceutical industry and I deal with doctors, there?s a lot of great doctors. There are some bad ones out there and those are the ones that needed to be pointed out.
G: I just think they really didn?t know who they were coming up against when they came up against you because you do have that kind of information being in the pharmaceutical industry and the other thing is it shows how hard it is to have anything happen, wouldn?t you say, Stephen? He?s got this professional experience. He?s pulled together. But you still don?t get that satisfaction.
S: No. And that?s what people have to understand about the legal process. There are certain things the legal process can do for people and there are certain things the legal process cannot do for people. That?s the obligation of the attorney to make sure that folks understand what ultimately they can expect in terms of an outcome in a case. As I said before, French?s situation where he was actually able to shut down the clinic is an absolutely fantastic example of his determination, but the reality of it is that?s a very rare circumstance.
G: And let us say that during the break French said they probably moved to another state, which even having the satisfaction of closing down one clinic may not mean they won?t open somewhere else.
S: That brings up the other problem of the medical profession not necessarily policing itself well enough. But that may be a topic for another show.
G: And also that may be something that some person might want to work on helping the medical profession police themselves better as kind of a mission or something. There are things you can do from this. French, I know you?ve gone on the board of The Compassionate Friends. Does that service, do you think, help you?
F: Yes. The thing that helps me the most in dealing with Stephen?s death is helping other people. It?s reaching out. I can?t explain why that is but reaching out and helping other people deal with their adversities helps you.
G: It?s amazing doing service. Have you found that, Stephen, with people?
S: Yes, and another thing I?ve also seen is people tend to like to be able to talk to other people about it. Share what has happened to them and in the process not only help themselves, but help others.
G: Yes, that?s one thing the legal system does do. It gives you the opportunity to keep telling your story over and over. It is important to be able to get your story out there and sometimes maybe you do have to do it through the legal system, that you do need to tell your story and hear other people?s stories which changes your story and those are important things to be able to do but eventually it?s my thought, French, I don?t know about you and maybe Stephen, you need to move beyond that anger.
F: Yes, because I understand anger only hurts you. Resentment only hurts you. It affects your life and that?s easier said. It?s easy to say that but it creeps in on and off but today, six years later, it?s a lot better because we didn?t get what we wanted. It wasn?t about the money. Everybody thinks you sue because of money. I sued to get answers and I had some great attorneys. They told me what to expect. They told me before the settlement. They didn?t push me to go either way, but at the time of the settlement, I wanted to pursue the trial. My wife could not. My younger son could not. So I chose to take the settlement and, therefore, at this point in time, I feel in one way relieved that my family is not under that long stressful burden because it?s on your mind every day, but I?m disappointed that the individuals that caused us the pain and our son?s life really were not held accountable or punished but again that?s not what the lawsuit?s about. I think that?s where people get confused. They think the lawsuit is a cure-all. It?s going to solve all the problems and it doesn?t. You basically still have to walk that journey of grief and the lawsuit?s not going to stop you.
G: Right. It?s not going to stop you from having the journey. Well, Stephen, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. Stephen Brewer. It?s been great to have you on. Do you have any thoughts about the show or the case or anything in closing?
S: I think it?s a wonderful forum for people to get out their feelings, and I wish French the best. I think his journey has been rather remarkable and, of course, he still has a fair amount of that journey to complete, but it sounds like he?s doing a marvelous job of it. I wish him the best of luck.
G: Okay, Stephen, you?re in Oakland, and give us the name of your law firm again.
S: Okay, one more time, it?s Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer.
G: Do you have a website?
S: We do. It?s www.giccb.com. It?s the initials of the members of the firm.
G: Thank you so much for being on the show and have a great day.
S: It?s been my pleasure. Thank you, Gloria.
G: Well, I?m pleased to say that along with French, we have Christian Creed joining us. He is the attorney that dealt with French?s case and he is with the law firm of Creed and Creed and where are you located, Christian?
C: Good morning, Gloria. I?m in Monroe, Louisiana.
G: Well, thanks for coming on the show today. It?s been quite a story that French has. It must have been quite a journey for you to walk with him.
C: It certainly has been, and it?s unlike any case we?ve ever dealt with but it was a terrible thing that brought us together but it?s been a nice relationship over the years, and I compliment both French and Marilyn on their courage and through the process, they really have helped a lot of people since Stephen?s death.
G: Well, certainly, and coming on the show and I think it?s kind of amazing to have an attorney that?s willing to come on your show ? to have French call you and have you come on the show, it says a lot about the person you are and the kind of relationship you have with him and with your clients, indeed.
C: Well, thank you. I did feel we have a very special relationship and if you know French, you can?t really deny him. He won?t let you.
G: Do you have any thoughts about this case and the settlement? How did you feel about it as an attorney?
C: Inherent with any settlement is compromise. Notwithstanding the fact that it was not about money with the Smiths, and it never was, unfortunately that?s the way in which the courts can compensate somebody for their loss. It?s a monetary compensation. Unfortunately, you can?t put a price tag on somebody?s loss for the loss of life. In this case, it was bittersweet. French wanted his day in court as he said earlier. His family members, Marilyn and Stephen?s younger brother in particular, I think, would have had a very difficult time going through the trial. So I guess in that sense it was good to resolve it. French can speak for himself. I think he kind of wanted his day in court just to get some things off his chest. The judge, I think, was well-intended by recommending that they settle it. I think it wasn?t so much that he did not want to try the case. I think it was more that he just didn?t want to see the family have to go through bringing up all these terrible memories.
G: And I think it?s tough for everyone, isn?t it, in the courtroom for you, for the judge, and everyone to hear character assassinations or the way the trial does go.
C: It certainly would be difficult. It was difficult through the deposition process of having to sit there and listen to French and Marilyn?s testimony or that of their two other sons. It was tough, even as their attorney. Of course, I feel I?m more than that, so it was difficult to sit through that. And if it was difficult for me, I just can?t imagine how it was for them, and it would have been more of the same had we gone to trial. Although I think the defense really didn?t look forward to having to try this case before a jury. I think of them today, they would not have had a good result.
G: Yeah, I would assume they wouldn?t have. French, you?re kind of aware of how it is and when we tell our story to people, it is hard for people who are bereaved parents, don?t you think?
F: Absolutely, extremely hard.
G: I know, I?ll tell people what I?m doing on the show and they?ll be like, ?gasp,? but I?m doing a show talking to bereaved parents but it?s so important to be able to tell these stories. I think that is one thing the legal system offers, as you said Christian, that day in court where you can tell the story. Now you never went to a jury then, selecting a jury?
C: We actually went to court. You often hear about cases settling on the courthouse steps. This is one of those instances. We began to panel the jury and we had prospective jury members there in the courtroom. The judge pulled the attorneys aside and really, I hesitate to use the word ?pressure,? but it?s almost, that?s what he did. He pressured us to settle it. And I think his interest was that he didn?t want to see the Smith family have to go through the trial if we were fairly close with the settlement. Of course, we took less than what we initially thought the case was worth but the defense had to pay more than what they had initially offered and what they initially had authority for.
G: And the clinic did close.
C: The clinic did close and I think we had a part in that. We spent a lot of time not just with our civil case but working with the authorities all the way up to the state attorney general?s office, all the way down to the local district attorneys, and I must say that French was pretty tenacious about seeing to it that it was closed.
G: French, before we end the show, is there something else you?d like to say that you feel we?ve missed?
F: The only thing I?d like to say if people are thinking about pursuing a lawsuit, they really need to decide if they?re mentally and physically prepared to face the many stressful events that?s going to come their way and also be prepared for a long haul. We settled after six years and also understand, it?s not going to make things better in dealing with your child?s death. That?s sort of a life-long journey that you have to travel yourself. After we settled, I was happy it was over with but disappointed that I thought I could accomplish more, but Christian and the judge, they were looking out for my best interest, and in the long run, my wife and I said it was the right thing to do. So you really need to make sure your family is together. Make sure you know your attorney because Christian?s been real good. Every time I needed to talk to him, he?s available to me because it?s not what you think it is. A lawsuit doesn?t solve the problems.
G: And I?ve heard people say that they didn?t feel that much better after. So maybe some of it is self-forgiveness, do you think?
F: Absolutely.
G: That you could have done more so that they hadn?t had it happen and so you need to deal with it later. Good advice. Do you have an email? Would you want people to email you who are thinking about a court case?
F: Sure. It?s frenchlsmith@aol.com.
G: And how about you, Christian, do you have a website?
C: We do it?s www.creedlaw.com.
G: Great. Well, thank you so much for calling in and being on the show, Christian. I really appreciate it, and thank you, French, it?s been a wonderful show, and I think you?re just great and you will be presenting at The Compassionate Friends conference in July in Dearborn, Michigan, and people can go on The Compassionate Friends website. I?ll be presenting there, and we would love to have you join us. French will be talking more, I believe, about malpractice and lawsuit.

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