This page is dedicated to the short yet astonishing life and spirit of our great love Sabrina Seelig. She has touched our hearts deeper than any words can express. She has inspired us to reshape our lives and re-examine our sense of purpose.
Sadly we have lost the Sabrina Seelig case on all charges. I owe you a brief and concise explanation how that occurred. This is my personal account of my own understanding of what happened there.
It is my first and an imperfect attempt to summarize this harrowing month of May 2012 in Brooklyn court.
First of all I would like you to know that we went to this trial with trust that the truth must prevail. We did not expect healing or epiphanies but we hoped that we can seek accountability and responsibility. We are shocked and dismayed by the outcome.
Has Sabrina stayed home and had someone to help her through this rough patch she would have been fine the next day. Landing in the Wyckoff hospital she was profiled as a suicidal drug overdose, restrained and stripped of her natural defenses by oversedation, left alone without proper monitoring and abandoned to drown in fluids that slowly built up in her lungs, without adjustment of her sodium levels which caused her lungs to fill with water, leading to heart attack and finally brain edema.
We had to compromise our position from the very beginning. In order to enter the legal path we had find an attorney who was willing to take this case on retainer. No law firm would take this case unless they could justify this with a potential profit. The law in New York State does not give any value to a life of a young person unless that person has dependents or we could prove that whatever Sabrina did before her demise would bring a future profit. Hence we could not address the essential issue of wrongful death. Instead our attorney sued the defendants for her pain and suffering.
Secondly, our attorney has limited the time span of our claim. He would would not address the extensive long cover-up ( for over 24 hours after Sabrina was clinically dead hospital personnel maintained that she was asleep from sedatives and would wake up soon ) by Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, since the pain and suffering could only be addressed before Sabrina was in an irreversible condition.
Thirdly, we were suddenly presented with the set of questions to the jury that were supposed to decide on the verdict. These questions were bureaucratic and highly technical and didn’t reflect the reality of what has been done or not done to Sabrina. We will make them publicly available once we receive full court transcripts (our attorney paid for a part of them and they are very expensive). The judge further cropped and limited these questions, so in the end they were entirely removed from the any common sense notions of right or wrong. In short, we got formatted into injustice. We knew all of this was suspect but we still hoped that the jury would see through the legalistic jargon and the the trap of doublespeak nonsense. Unfortunately no one in the jury was capable of discerning justice from the whitewash and crude manipulation.
I feel personally responsible for not being more vocal on all these points but in order to move forward we had to have some faith in the process.
We had formidable opponents in Kings County Court. Our lawyer took on three powerful attorneys, two of them hired by the insurance companies for the doctor and the nurse and the third one defending Wyckoff hospital. All of the them brought expert witnesses who in the absence of any reliable hospital records spun various speculative theories about Sabrina’s condition that would fit into the defense narrative ( heart attack from stimulants on board or undetected heart disease ). They all presented very coherent if simplistic story that would clear their clients of any responsibility. It was an echo of national politics where repeated lies begin to resonate with tired and oblivious public. Each and every one of the experts and defense attorneys portrayed Sabrina as a suicidal drug addict and we had to listen to their shameless smear campaign and character assassination with calm and dignity. Like the skilled republican spin doctors who only intimate that president Obama may have not been born in the US they kept on instilling doubts about Sabrina’s character and her condition in the minds of the exhausted jury. They made the complex issues simple and almost all their sentences contained “it is obvious” or “we all agree” demagoguery. Adding insult to a killing they made a mockery of our effort to seek accountability.
Instead of accusing the organization responsible for Sabrina’s death we were forced to defend her name.
Unfortunately we did not lose in great style. Our attorney was unable to match their rhetorical flourish and forcefulness. Towards the end of the trial our lawyer was deep in the defense and lost in the technicalities trying to disprove the myriad of conjectures produced by the defense. Instead of a clear, impassioned and compelling closing statement he was entangled refuting false speculations of the defense, proving inaccuracies and contradictions in their arguments and in the end limited in time by the judge to properly conclude his argument.
The judge did not help. We were dismayed by her multiple rulings. Firstly she allowed the defense to suppress a crucial evidence pointing to the alteration of hospital records by removing pages from the documents presented to the jury. Secondly she sustained the defense objection to the our presentation of the highly relevant information concerning Sabrina’s deterioration. All sodium level issues, which caused Sabrina’s pulmonary edema were excluded from the argument on an inexplicable grounds. Inexplicably too, the judge limited our attorney’s time, rushing him to finish his closing statement and cutting short his final argument. It is hard to imagine that the judge did not see the injustice that was served in this court.
Seeking a verdict we were aware that even if had won we would be penalized for fighting for principle. We had an offer of settlement from one of the defendants before the trial but we decided to maintain transparency. The verdict option slashes possible financial reward to a third or a fourth of what a settlement could bring. In what is called settlement culture, judges pressure all sides to settle. You are supposed to take the money and move on. We did not want to suppress the verdict and we were penalized for this. The deck is stacked against the principle of truth and transparency.
We are not sure what is our recourse now. Our attorney is not willing to appeal and told us that it would cost us close to $40,000 to file an appeal. We were told that we could appeal on procedural issues or by claiming the case was proved by the preponderance of evidence. We are looking for counsel in this matter. Any suggestions are welcome.
Thank you again for your loving presence and support.
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