Radiology Expert Witness Testimony Confirms No Child Abuse

In the Matter of Isaac C. (Isom C.), it was alleged that a child under eighteen years of age was was abused.  The New York County Family Court found that during pertinent time period respondents lived together in the home of the paternal grandparents. On December 23, 2015, the parents brought Isaac to Mt. Sinai Hospital after noticing swelling in the child’s leg. Examination and tests at Mt. Sinai revealed a transverse femur fracture and, according to Mt. Sinai physicians, a classic metaphyseal fracture (CML) and a distal radial buckle fracture.

The trial upon the petition encompassed nine days from May to August 2016.  Dr. O’Hara and Dr. Henrietta Rosenberg, Radiologist-in-Chief at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mt. Sinai Hospital, testified for petitioner as an Radiology Expert Witness. All respondents testified on their own behalf and Dr. Grimm (via subpoena), Dr. Levenbrown and Dr. Michael Holick, who was qualified as an Endocrinology Expert Witness, Vitamin D and metabolic bone disease, testified as experts for respondents. Dr. O’Hara presented brief rebuttal testimony. The primary issue at trial was whether or not ACS carried its burden of proving abuse in light of expert testimony proffered by respondents asserting that Isaac’s injuries resulted from the conflation of extreme Vitamin D deficiency and metabolic bone disease.

The court concluded that that Isaac’s fractures, given his underlying medical conditions, resulted from normal handling. Dr. Levenbrown testified that Isaac’s bone fragility was such that even holding his hand or hugging him normally could have resulted in fractures. The three Expert Witnesses called by respondents testified that the deep tissue swelling on the child’s right leg was consistent with accidental injury, most likely from minor weight bearing. To the extent that the limited scientific literature introduced into evidence had direct relevance to Isaac’s fractures, it contained support for the possibility of this child’s injuries being caused by his underlying medical conditions. Dr. Levenbrown’s and Dr. Holick’s expert testimony as to Isaac’s vitamin D deficiency and rickets and how these conditions likely manifested themselves as the child’s fragility fractures appear sound to the court and as more nuanced, more thoroughly conducted analyses of the subject child’s fractures.  Even if, as petitioner posits, a relatively small fraction of children with rickets suffers the number and types of injuries occurring herein, the one of ten, one of a hundred, or even one in a thousand cases involve at least once child. The preponderance of the credible evidence indicates that this appears to be that case.

The court had the opportunity to consider all of the expert testimony discussed above and observed both parents during their testimony and throughout the trial. Based upon their testimony and their demeanor the court found the parents credible. Considering all of the expert and lay testimony adduced at trial, the court finds that petitioner did not carry its burden of proving that any respondent abused or neglected Isaac. Accordingly, the court dismisses the petition. This constitutes the decision and order of the court.