Missing Baby Case

Case Name
Rob and Terry Thate v. Prince George’s Hospital Center

Court
Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland

Co-Counsel
Craig Silver, Esq. of Gaithersburg, Maryland

Defense Counsel
Wayne Curry, Esq. (Subsequently County Executive for Prince Georges’ County).

Facts and Damages
Rob and Terry Thate took their three (3) week old baby boy, Jeremiah, to the Prince Georges’ Hospital Center for treatment of an infection. On June 11, 1987, with the blessing of the nursing staff, Terry walked down the hall to the confection area to have a snack, leaving the sleeping baby in the room hooked to a monitor which was supposed to alert the nursing staff if anything went wrong. Mrs. Thate was absent from the room for about ten (10) minutes when she returned to find the baby missing and the clip with the baby alarm unattached and lying in the crib. She ran down the hall to the nurse’s station to find the alarm had gone off, but had been unnoticed by the nursing staff. Frantic, she alerted security personnel who immediately began searching the hospital grounds, inside and out, to no avail.

Excruciating weeks went by with no success in locating the baby or finding any leads as to what had happened to her. Approximately four (4) months later, however, on October 28, 1987, D.C. firefighter Donald Dernes was responding to a reported fire in the District of Columbia when he noticed an African American woman walking with a stroller on the sidewalk near the scene of the fire. Glancing in the stroller he saw what he first believed was a toy dolly, but then realized was a living, Caucasian child. Remembering the extensive publicity the case of the Thate’s missing baby had received, he reported the matter to the police.

Upon investigation, it was determined the lady strolling the baby had, in fact, abducted the child from the hospital. Having entered the hospital unnoticed, she had waited in the obstetric wing until she found the baby alone in the room. She then had kidnapped the child, unhooking it from the baby monitor, removing it from its crib and taking it several flights down the rear stairway of the hospital, which stairway was supposed to be alarmed and used only for emergency purposes. When the kidnapping occurred, the alarm on the stairway was either disconnected or disabled and not working.

Case Outcome
Through Mr. Campen and Mr. Silver, the Thates made a settlement demand on the hospital, alleging its staff was negligent for failing to adequately oversee the baby monitor and for failing to keep the emergency equipment in the stairwell functional, either of which should have alerted hospital staff to the abduction while it was being perpetrated.

The case was settled in January, 1988, for a significant sum without the need for litigation. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

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