The decade long saga of Janae Matute and her mother Georgia Matute, finally came to a close as the trial judge of the CCJ ruled in favour of Janae and her mother against obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Raju Meenvalli.
In June 9th 2000, Georgia Matute realized she was pregnant and so visited the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan.
She said she told Dr. Raju Meenvalli, who was presently working at the hospital that her Last Menstrual Period (LMP) was on April 27th, 2000, but Dr. Meenvalli recorded March 27th, 2,000. Subsequently, in December 2000, Dr. Meenvalli delivered Janae prematurely through a c-section.
A pediatrician later on diagnosed Janae with moderate asphyxia hyaline membrane disease as a result of premature birth. As a result Janae has been restricted to a wheel chair.
Her mother took it up to the court, where at the Supreme Court they won their case against Dr. Raju Meenvalli and were awarded Belize’s largest ever medical malpractice award – $2.6 million for Janae and a further half a million for Georgia. Dr. Meenvalli represented by attorney Godfrey Smith, submitted an appeal at the CCJ.
“After considering the evidence before the lower courts, the Court concluded that the Court of Appeal was correct to conclude that Dr. Raju failed to follow procedure sanctioned as the proper practice for an obstetrician, failed to record Mrs Matute’s LMP accurately, to take account of the La Loma Luz ultrasound of the pregnancy and so misled himself when he came to assess Mrs. Matute’s case in the closing stages of the pregnancy and to decide on the most appropriate date of delivery.”
Dr. Meenvalli’s attorney Godfrey Smith spoke to the media earlier today and shared his disappointment with the ruling:
Mr. Godfrey Smith- Attorney for Dr. Raju Meenvalli
“Well, this is the end of the road of course Because the Caribbean Court of Justice is Belize’s Court of last resort. We have not yet seen the judgement, it should be probably to us soon. Obviously, we are disappointed with the decision; we marshaled the best possible arguments we could and as robustly as we could, but it did not unfortunately come through.”.
Reporter: “Can you explain an aspect for us and how your client managed to pay so much money?”
Mr. Godfrey Smith: “Obviously, we have to look at the decision first to see how damages and costs are our portion and see what the court has directed in that regard”.
Reporter: “Can you give us an idea of the nature to present on behalf of your client?”
Mr. Godfrey Smith: “Essentially, it followed two streams of arguments: one that the test of standard of care have not been satisfied, and one that the issue of causes might have not been properly made out”.
Reporter: “Obviously, the Court of Appeal didn’t agree with that argument…”
Mr. Godfrey Smith: “The Caribbean Court of Justice did not agree with our arguments”.
We spoke to Georgia Matute, who seemed overwhelmed with satisfaction:
“Well, I thank you and I give all thanks to God that He has come through for us. This is truly a blessing and we are so satisfied that this has been solved because God is a God of justice and I am just giving God all the thanks”.
Georgia Matute: “Well, at this time I just need to come up to my family and friends and we will see where we go from here. But before we need to get a response from the Government and from which terms of payments”.
Georgia Matute and Janae Matute were represented in court by Senior Counsel Fred Lumor.