Parents Claim Nationwide Children’s Hospital Violated Rights After Reporting Alleged Abuse
Meet the Burley family.
Parents Lori and Chad have five children, who range from 8-years-old to 7 months.
The couple says when their son Luke was just 19-days old, he awoke one morning with unexplained swelling on his head; they took him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to find out what was wrong.
According to doctors there, “He had fractures on both sides of his head," said his father, Chad. The parents say instead of finding out what caused the fractures, they felt the hospital and Franklin County Children Services were building a case against them for alleged child abuse.
“[We just took him] to see what's going on and they're putting and investigation on behind your back and not telling anything about your child,” recalls the boys’ mother, Lori. “I felt really terrible, like they were going to take my kids," Chad worried.
Luke would go on to get 23 x-rays. The parents say the hospital also ordered their other children to undergo tests.
“I think they did go overboard", said Lori. Chad labeled it a “witch hunt.”
Doctors found no evidence of abuse. The family says their $7,000 medical bill for all the testing was covered by insurance.
Upset with how the hospital treated them, the Burleys took their concerns to a lawyer. They learned three other families had similar concerns. Together, they filed a federal lawsuit. It alleges the hospital violated a number of constitutional rights during similar child abuse exams.
The suit is asking for a jury award of $30 million.
Nationwide Children’s sent 10TV the following statement:"It is important to clarify that it is not our role or intention to accuse parents of abusing their children. It is, however, our role and our duty to all the children of this community to identify suspicious injuries, often in children too young to talk, and, when identified, to report to the authorities."
The Burley's say being investigated for alleged child abuse was bad enough, but it got worse they say when a member of Children's Services told them their son would have to live with a family member for three months as part of a home safety plan.
“We had supervised visits, unsupervised visits and we had to overnight visits,” Lori explains. “If those went good, after that, he was allowed to come home.”
The Burley's hope by speaking out, others like them will also come forward.
“We're not doing this for greed or money we want parents to have a voice,” added Chad.
According to the Burley's attorney, three additional families are interested in joining the lawsuit, bringing the total to seven families.
Nationwide Children's says as mandated reporters of suspected abuse, it is a criminal offense to fail to report suspicions of abuse or neglect.