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Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Monday, February 22, 2016

Wrongful Death Suit Filed Against Nanny by Cambridge Parents

What are the possible reasons for filing a wrongful death suit?

Five months ago, prosecutors dropped murder charges against a nanny who was watching a 1-year-old girl in 2013 when the child died suddenly as a result of catastrophic brain swelling and bleeding. Her parents have now filed a wrongful death suit in Middlesex County Superior Court against Aisling Brady McCarthy, the nanny, (who has since returned to her native Ireland). The suit maintains that McCarthy is responsible for the death of Rehman Sabir, age 1, due to the nanny's “negligent, malicious, willful, wanton, reckless and/or grossly negligent acts.”

The Facts of the Notorious Case

Originally, medical evidence, including MRI and CT scans, showed  that Rehma was the victim of shaken-baby syndrome, a diagnosis in which blunt force trauma is associated with excessive shaking, an occurrence that is, tragically, not all that rare. It happens when an adult, frustrated by a baby's incessant crying, shakes the child forcefully in a fit of rage.

Charges against McCarthy were dropped in late August on the grounds that medical evidence introduced by the defense brought into question the idea that the baby's death was a homicide. Nevertheless, doubt remains in many minds, certainly in the minds of the parents of little Rehma.

The recent lawsuit states that "McCarthy intentionally slammed Rehma on the changing table and shook her so violently as to cause the traumatic injuries, including brain swelling, skeletal fractures, hemorrhaging, and herniation, that resulted in Rehma’s death.”  According to the lawsuit, the child’s grandmother visited in the late afternoon and showed concern that Rehma had been napping for an abnormally long time. When McCarthy picked Rehma up in the grandmother's presence, the child was “unresponsive and unconscious.” Rehma was rushed to the hospital where, after two days, she was declared brain dead.

The Defense's Position

The dissension between the opposite sides of this case worsened sharply at the end of August when the medical examiner, Dr. Katherine Lindstrom, who had originally stated that Rehma died of abusive head trauma, found reason to question her original decision. She indicated at that time that it was possible that Rehma had "some type of disorder that was not able to be completely diagnosed prior to her death." She cited Williebrand disease as one possible medical condition that might have been responsible for the child's death, by exacerbating an accidental injury. There were also some questions about whether bone breaks the child suffered took place during the period when she was being cared for by the nanny or prior to that time.

Unexplained by this later medical explanation, however, is forensic evidence at the site, including a missing chunk of dry wall and plaster near Rehma's changing table, and DNA evidence of Rehma's blood found on some wipes, towels, a pillowcase, blanket and clothes in the vicinity, possibly indicating of violence.

Reasons for the Wrongful Death Suit

In the lawsuit filed in Middlesex County Superior Court, the couple maintains that Aisling Brady McCarthy, who has since returned to her native Ireland, is responsible for the death of their first-born child, Rehma Sabir. They insist that their primary reason for filing the lawsuit is to prevent McCarthy from profiting from their daughter's death by, for example, signing a contract to write a book or make a movie about the tragic event.

This lawsuit, they say, is their only recourse to prevent McCarthy from, damaging their child's memory and profiting from her death. They further state that they will drop the lawsuit if McCarthy signs an agreement not to profit from Rehma's death, even if she does not admit to any culpability. As evidence of their pure motives in filing the lawsuit, the couple points to the fact that only the minimum amount, $25,000, is being sought in damages.

Wrongful death lawsuits inevitably involve personal trauma and tragedy. If  someone you love has died as a result of the malice or negligence of another and you wish to file a lawsuit of wrongful death, you should consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in such matters to assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.


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