It was supposed to be the happiest day of Victoria Mellin's life: the day she gave birth to her twin girls. But what happened on her way into the hospital has turned what should be a joyous memory, into a bitter one.
Mellin's daughter Astrid and Michon were born about nine minutes apart — six weeks before they were due. As she went into labor on June 25, Mellin and her husband made their way to NYU Langone Hospital on the east side of Manhattan.
Things took a turn for the worse after they arrived. Surveillance video shows the terrifying fall the expectant Mellin took, just steps from the hospital's entrance.
"The motherly instinct immediately kicked in, I tried to shield my abdomen as I was launched forward, rolling onto my shoulder," Mellin said.
Her collarbone snapped upon impact, but she still had two premature babies to deliver. The days and weeks that followed didn't make it any easier either, as Mellin needed surgery to fix the injury at the same time her newborn daughters were getting out of the neonatal ICU.
"Those weeks immediately following the surgery were incredibly painful," Mellin emotionally recalled. "Not being able to, not to be the mother I wanted to be."
She is now suing the hospital for the fall on the sidewalk that she says was glaringly uneven. Pictures, provided by Mellin's attorney, show the unevenness in the walkway.
"I don't think every sidewalk in New York has to be perfect, but the sidewalk going into a hospital — the hospital, of all places, they should know that their sidewalk should really be pristine," said Matthew Haicken.
In it's response to the negligence lawsuit, court documents show NYU Langone denies wrongdoing. In part, the hospital states that "all risks, hazards, defects and dangers alleged were of an open, obvious and apparent nature and inherently trivial and were known or should have been known to plaintiff."
"What's the risk Tori assumes going into a hospital? I don't think you should assume there's going to be an unlevel sidewalk going into a hospital," Haicken said.
With two babies who needed (and still need) her, and initially only having one arm able to hold them, Mellin said the fall made becoming a new parent even more stressful than usual.
"For it to be at this stage of my life, postpartum, so many things going on. You're emotionally going through a lot," she said.
The difference in the sidewalk height was still there Monday night. The hospital had not yet provided a statement after being reached for comment.