Government of Belize and Dr. Raju must pay millions in damages
A landmark case was recently appealed and it will put the government out of pocket at least two million dollars. The suit for medical malpractice and negligence was brought against Dr. Raju Meenavalli and the government for substantial damages. In March 2010, Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Lungole Awich awarded about two point six million dollars in favor of Janae Matute who was prematurely delivered by C-section and developed Cerebral Palsy. At the time of her birth, her mother Georgia was working for a government ministry and had to quit to provide twenty-four hour care for her daughter. The court then ruled out the claim against the government, and Dr. Raju appealed. The new judgment now binds both Raju and the Government of Belize to pay for the care of the child.
Fred Lumor, Attorney for Georgia and Janae Matute
“In this case Dr. Raju knew that he wanted to deliver this child preterm. The mother repeatedly warned him that you are not getting my gestational period correct—he defied the warnings of mother. The mother went and got second opinion from La Loma Luz Hospital, gave it to the doctor, he retained it, he disregarded it. And in his testimony in court, he later on testified that somewhere along the line he realized that Georgia Matute was correct. Dr. Raju Meenavalli delivered this baby by caesarian section about eleven years ago at the Belmopan Hospital. What has happened is that the child suffered from what we call cerebral palsy, which is the lack of oxygen to the brain of the child. So the child is actually born brain dead. This claim has been filed in the Supreme Court since 2003 and in 2010 finally Justice Awich gave judgment awarding Janae and the mother, Georgia Matute a total of about two point six million dollars in damages for the harm that was caused to the child and also the mother had to give up her job; secretary grade two working at the Ministry of Natural Resources at the time to devote her entire life to the care of this child. Dr. Raju has appealed the judgment awarded. They could have appealed last Friday, which was the thirtieth of March delivered judgment. The appeal has been dismissed. We, on behalf of Georgia Matute and Janae Matute, also appeal against the judgment because the Supreme Court has dismissed the claim we brought against the government because the child was delivered at the Belmopan Hospital. The Court of Appeal accepted our appeal and made government liable for all the injury caused to this child. The Court of Appeal, however, accepted the appeal of Dr. Raju and reduced the damages awarded to the baby from about two million to approximately one point five million. The damages awarded to the mother in the value of half a million dollars stand—no changes made to it.”
“Now how much does Dr. Raju pay? How much does the government pay?”
“Basically what we say in law is that government and Dr. Raju are jointly liable for the damages meaning that we could make a claim against either Dr. Raju or the government for the damages awarded for the injuries caused to the child and mother.”
This case is one of the few medical malpractice that has been successful in court.