A prescription dosing error and an apparent rush to judgment by state officials nearly a decade ago following the 2005 death of a Francesville girl cost her family their livelihood, home and reputations. Roman and Lynette Finnegan and their surviving children recently won a $31.5 million judgment against DCS officials and others involved in the investigation of their 14-year-old daughter Jessica’s death. She suffered from congestive heart failure and died as a result of an accidental overdose due to a prescribing error, according to court documents. Earlier this week Roman spoke exclusively with WKVI News and said he had no idea he and his wife were suspects in their daughter’s death.
“There was a [DCS] detention the day Jessica died, but we got the kids back that night. It really wasn’t much of a warning sign except for hearing that the coroner wasn’t closing it, or it was being left open. I think he intended to close it,” Finnegan said.
The coroner’s report noted extensive bruising to Jessica’s body that made DCS officials suspect she had been abused. That bruising was consistent with the prescription blood thinner Coumadin, which she was taking. Finnegan says the FDA issued a black box warning for the drug nearly a year after her death citing potentially fatal bleeding.
“The explanation was there from the beginning, and within a couple of days after the girls were taken we kind of started to make a connection between the Coumidin, but the overdose was discovered within a month of the girls being taken in 2006.”
The DCS report also notes Jessica sustained a head injury, but Finnegan says that occurred during the initial autopsy. He and his wife were charged in late 2006, but the charges were eventually dropped and have been expunged. Finnegan says the civil suit was filed on constitutional grounds in 2008. Even though the jury awarded the family $31.5 million, Finnegan doesn’t know when, or if, they will see any money due to the lengthy appeals process. He does feel vindicated by the verdict.
“I wonder what people think after they hear it, the ones that said certain things. I’ve saved some of the comments that were put on forums about us. I’ve read other cases where people are jumping to the same conclusions. I guess I’d kind of hope they feel stupid, to be honest with you, to maybe wish they hadn’t jumped to conclusions.”
WKVI will air News Director Mary Perren’s entire conversation with Roman Finnegan during a special extended Kankakee Valley Viewpoints public affairs show Sunday at noon CDT on WKVI-FM.