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Apr 2, 2012

Government of Belize and Dr. Raju must pay millions in damages

Janae Matute

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 

Fred Lumor

“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.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Now how much does Dr. Raju pay? How much does the government pay?”

 

Fred Lumor

“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. 


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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13 Responses for “Government of Belize and Dr. Raju must pay millions in damages”

  1. Storm says:

    Good job, lawyer Lumor. Negligent people of any and all stations should be held to account for their harmful acts in a just society.

  2. the seed has been sown says:

    This serves as a landmark case. From this point on when you have to pay $20,000 for a C section in the public sector, its because of a case like this. If I was a physician delivering babies in this country I would not want to deliver anyone anymore. You try to help humanity and this is what comes of it.
    Sit back people cause your medical world is about to spin out of control and you have front row seats!

  3. Ragamuffin says:

    To the seed has been sown – If it were your child would you not have wanted to be awarded damages in order to care for your child??? How silly do we get??

  4. elena says:

    I am a parent of a child whom I believe died at d hands of a doctor at old Belize hospital. Over 18years ago..d doctor did surgery cut d hernia and my child died as a result..years later his wife spoke on it and. My aunt was present…Hmm some patient confidenciality…this still haunts me to this day….I was just 18 years old…

  5. the seed has been sown says:

    Raga – I never said anything about not being awarded damages. What I am saying is that from an economic point of view, if a doctor knows that he might one day have to pay in excess of a million dollars he will start to save up and the way he(or she) will do this is by increasing their fees for consultations and surgeries. Furthermore, risky cases that can lead to potential law suit can be turned away by those who deem it too high risk and now you end up with a patient in need but doctors who are scared that everything they worked for gets wiped away.

  6. drose flowers says:

    I SAY THE MOTHER IS TO BLAME, I AM SURE THE DOCTOR,OR THE NURSES OR THE GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE NEVER HAD A GUN TO HER HEAD AND FORCE HER TO DO THE SURGERY, I AM SURE THIS IS MOTHER IS NOT BRAIN DEAD, SHE COULD HAVE JUST GONE BACK TO HER GYNEA IN LOMA LUZ TO CONTINUE PRE NATAL CARE UNTIL IT REACH FULL TERM.

    SEEMS SHE KNEW SHE IT WAS NOT HER EXPECTED DATE SO WHY DID SHE AGREE TO THE SURGERY, EVEN BEFORE THE ROLL HER INTO THE OPERATING THEATER SHE STILL HAD THE OPTION TO GET UP AND WALK OUT OF THE HOSPITAL, COMMON GUYS,
    I BLAME THE MOTHER AND NO ONE ELSE.

    NOW IF THE DOCTOR KIDNAPPED HER WITH A GUN AND FORCE HER TO DO THE SURGERY THEN I WOULD SAY HE IS TO BLAME.
    DID THIS HAPPEN?????

  7. John Boy,Carson,Ca says:

    One thing about free speech even stupid people get to speak in capital letters.

  8. C says:

    My first child was born in 2001 at Loma Luz by csection, the total fees were over $4000.00 if not more. My second child was born at Western Hospital in 2003 by C section done by dr Raju. I felt pressured into having a early csection and felt that the timing was off as well and I voiced these concerns. Thank God the baby was fine. The costs were a lot less but it was a nightmare birth from begining to end. I felt truly sorry to hear about this case and continue to count my blessing as it could have been me and my child. I hope that this case will weed out those doctors looking to push patients through the hospital as fast as possible looking for their next payday. There must be some accountability. God Bless you Janae

  9. Mel says:

    Healthcare in Belize needs to be regulated with stringent laws and people who practice in the healthcare field all need to be held responsible for their actions . They also need to provide the best care as they can given their equipment or location.

  10. Tax payer says:

    if the doctor is allowed to do private practise in the government hospital, then government is just as liable. the way to remedy this is to stop publicly paid doctors from sneaking in private patients in the public hospital.

  11. apointofview says:

    First of al the child was not born “brain dead” contrary to Fred Lumor.
    second ..
    “While in certain cases there is no identifiable cause, typical causes include problems in intrauterine development (e.g. exposure to radiation, infection), asphyxia before birth, hypoxia of the brain, and birth trauma during labor and delivery, and complications in the perinatal period or during childhood.[3] CP is also more common in multiple births.”
    the fact is cerebral palsy happen.Gestational age is most accurately determined by a USG in the first trimester. The patient was relying on a USG in the latter part of the pregnancy… even if it was 4 weeks off, 36 weeks is not badly off to have a C-section. C-secctions are done in vast numbers around the world and to sue an exorbitant sum in Belize leads to one thing for sure… higher medical cost and specialists seeking to work elsewhere. A tort system- (requiring those responsible (or “at fault”) for harming others to compensate the victims, usually in money.) would hurt medical practice in Belize which is already limited due to poor resources. If you want to fix the system…. allow for proper documentation… allow for cheaper ultrasonography services…improve the neonatal care system.The sad thing is the the past two administrations have kept saying the the neonatal ward at KHMH will be increased in size. 10 years have passed and the limited stressed out staff there are tending to 15 newborn babies a day in an area made for less than half that number.Unfortunately, not much is expected by us on the frontlines of medicine from the government and a people who would rather pay for a new vehicle than a few medications.We have a country that would rather spend millions on a incomplete,dysfunctional unwanted stadium instead of healthcare and education. Hans Rosling showed that a country that focuses on these two aspects finally ends up doing better than one that focuses on other things…. case in point.. south korea and japan post world war 2.

  12. shabba says:

    These doc are out of hand. they provide two different levels of care. 1.) best to their abilities (private clinic for way higher rates) 2.) what the hek whatever care ( government hospitals or clinics) .

    This must be regulated.

  13. Concern says:

    Can’t the Doctors/Hospitals obtain Insurance coverage for such liabilities?

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