When Samantha testifiedat Plymouth Superior Court, she was asked by one of her attorneys what she liked to read. “Harry Potter,” she said. Who’s your favorite character, she was asked. “Ron Weasley.”
When the defense attorney questioned her, he said he had four daughters who also love the books. “I only have one question for you, Samantha. Why don’t you like Hermione best?”
Samantha, polite but incredulous, replied: “Because I’m a girl.”
Samantha, says her mother, is “an old soul” who has taught her much about life. “She humbles me every day. She has more strength and courage than anyone I know, and she makes me want to be a better person every day.”
But mostly, Samantha just wants to be your typical teenager, hanging out with friends, keeping her grades up so she can get into good colleges.
But summers can be hard. She has always loved the beach, and the sun is tough on her eyes, lungs, and skin.
Her parents say they are relieved and gratified over the verdict, which came after five weeks of testimony, including their own. Samantha was on the witness stand for about 20 minutes.
“As far as Sam goes, 12 people stood up and spoke for her,” says Richard. “It made me think the last 10 years were not in vain.”
But he remains angry at Johnson & Johnson, which issued a statement saying that although it sympathizes with the Reckis family, it disagrees with the verdict and is considering its legal options.
“I tell you what really bothers me,” says Richard. “Not one time did anyone pick up the phone or come down here and say, ‘We’re sorry’ to my daughter. I’d like them to sit here, and look her in the eye, and say they’re sorry.”
Richard, who was the one who first gave Samantha the Children’s Motrin for a fever, says he feels the responsibility every single day.
“Do I feel it was my fault? No,” he says. “But do I blame myself every day? Sure I do.”
Attorney Bradley Henry of the Boston law firm Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, which represented the family, said the jury of eight women and four men were evidently “shocked and astonished to learn that a product as common as Children’s Motrin can cause such devastating damage . . . and that the drug companies have known about it for decades.”
Years ago, when her daughter lay near death, Lisa Reckis said she prayed to God: “I said, ‘I’ll take her in any condition as long as you give her back to me.’ And he did. I got a second chance and I feel blessed every day.”
She feels more at peace since the verdict, she says, because she believes Samantha will have a secure future if anything happens to her or Richard.
“I wish I could turn back the clock, but I can’t. But what I can do, thanks to 12 jurors and a great legal team, is move forward, because now I have a future, with Samantha.”
Bella English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.