Two million, five hundred and fifty-two thousand, four hundred and sixty four dollars and seventy-five cents. This was the amount outstanding, as of 31 October 2014, against the Government of Belize after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) dismissed the appeal of Dr. Raju Meenavalli.
The ruling established that there was malpractice on the dcotor’s part at the Belmopan Western Regional Hospital, when he delivered Janae Matute a month ahead of schedule, due to personal error. This is what is believed to have caused now 14 year old Janae to have contracted cerebral palsy.
Eight months after that ruling, the Government has yet to honor the award.
Meanwhile, single mother Georgia Matute and her family struggle to meet costs for the second-former of Belmopan Comprehensive High School. She was surprised last week, on a visit to the Financial Secretary Joseph Waight’s Belmopan office seeking an audience, with some not-so-good news.
“I went again last week, Thursday, and Mr Wade was not in office again. The Prime Minister’s secretary, I spoke to her, ’cause I went over to his office as well, and he was not in office either.
However, both secretaries promised that they will forward my concerns again, and they’ll get back to me.
Well, Mr Waight’s secretary, got back to me, and she said that he still need some more clarity, in respect to the payment. [I told her] my attorney has written to him. What else do they need?
Since then I haven’t heard back from them. I haven’t been able to get an audience with him. The Prime Minister’s secretary told me that normally the Prime Minister would call me personally. I haven’t gotten any call from him. I haven’t heard anything else. She, as well, promised that she would speak to Mr Waight. So, I’m still waiting.”
Previous to that visit, there was back and forth correspondence between the office of the Matutes’ attorney, Senior Counsel Fred Lumor, and that of Deputy Solicitor General, Nigel Hawke of the Attorney General’s Ministry, who at the time of the CCJ judgment was Acting Solicitor General.
Ms. Matute has been to both the Financial Secretary and Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s offices without success.
Meanwhile, the interest on the judgment continues to accrue at nearly $130 per day. It has forced Fred Lumor to change tactics, but first he offered an apology to his clients.
“I want to publically appologise to Janae and her mother, bacause I thought that this matter would have been handled by compassion, and care, and some sensitivity., by the Government of Belize, knowing that a child who is disabled tremendously is involoved.
So I took their word that thye were acying responsible manner, and I didn’t pursue this matter visably. I should have done.
As you all know, it is not possible for me procure any property of the Government of Belize. So the only thing I can do is to start another round of litigation, this time taking a constitutional motion against the Government of Belize, claiming that the refusal to pay the judgement debt is deprivation of property of the child and mother, under the Belize Constitution. That is going to take another three to four years, or even more, for that matter to be concluded.”
The payment covers special damages of $129,000; general damages related to care, pain and suffering of 14 year old Janae set at $1.447 million after the Court of Appeal judgment; general damages to Georgia Matute of $577,416 plus interest, and costs of $235,000 for Lumor’s office. For Georgia Matute, all she wants is to give her child the best life she can. She issued this appeal to Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis-Barrow to help Janae find a place at the Inspiration Center to undergo the physical therapy she needs.
“She does need special help min terms of therapy [etcetera]. Of course the doctors have told me in the past that zero to five was the best time, but we were not financially equipped to deal with it.
However, I believe that some therapy would assist, [possibly at the] Inspiration Center.
I know that Miss Kim Simplis-Barrow is the person behind pushing that Center, so I’m appealing to her as well, because she knows about people with disabilities. She works along with people with disabilities, and so I am hoping and I am praying that she would do something, speak to her husband, speak to whoever she can speak to, because we need the help.
It’s a constant struggle, when I have to be trying to carry Janae. Now, my worst fear has arrived. That fear is that I am unable to carry Janae alone.”
Georgia has two older children, and the family lives in Roaring Creek, Cayo District.