By Melvin Jackson/Judicial Correspondent
MONROVIA: The Civil Law Court Annexed “B” has awarded a whopping amount of USD1m general and another USD300k to a lady, Madam Karen Gaydou Sehkehporh for ‘Actions of Damages for Wrong’ suit against the nation’s premier referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center for wrong surgical operations on the defendant just as the lawyers representing the JFK have filed a motion for new trial.
It can be recalled that on October 27, 2023 the trial jurors brought down a unanimous verdict of liability against the Management of JFK for One Million United Dollars as general damages and over US$300, 000 as special damages but the Medical Center through its legal counsel filed a motion for new trial of the case on Monday Oct 30, in which the defence lawyers requested that said verdict be set aside because it does not support the weight of the evidence adduced at trial.
The JKF lawyers quoted Chapter 26, sub-section 26.4 of the Civil Procedure Law as their legal reliance which states that after a trial of a claim or issue by a jury and upon the motion for retrial by any of the adversary parties, the court may set aside a verdict and order a new trial of the claim or separable issue where the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence or in the interest of justice.
The Management of JFK added that Madam Karen failed to prove that the institution was negligent in the risk, care, skill or preparation of services provided during the surgery on June 13, 2019, and also maintain that because the defendant proved that standard of care was exercised which was never refuted or rebutted to by the Plaintiff, the trial jurors’ verdict is contrary to the weight of evidence adduced at trial.
Accordingly, the lawyers argue that the plaintiff did not prove the damage for wrong allegation when they attempted to prove medical malpractice by the evidence presented during the trial which were refuted by the defendant party and the Plaintiff failed to refute the same.
The JFK Medical Center’s lawyers have reemphasized that no damages for either wrong or medical malpractice were established or shown in the Plaintiff’s Complaint or proven during trial to warrant the said verdict which was based on sentiments.
“The court is allowed to set aside a verdict and order a new trial of a claim or separable issue where the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence or in the interest of justice,” the defendant added.
That defendants pointed out that because the jurors failed to take into account the variances of the testimonies of the witnesses for the Respondent/Plaintiff, particularly the Plaintiff’s first witness, Karen Gayduo Sehkelporh, who confirmed that Dr. Dolo at Fidelity put hold on her side for the first time, then after couple of days he cut open her one, two, and three times, and went back in her after couple of days again.
The plaintiff/complainant further alleged that on all of these occasions, gauze was used by Dr. Dolo which is sufficient to establish that Defendant did not leave gauze in the Plaintiff. Gauze is a loosely woven cotton used for surgical dressing.
Further to the above, Movant/defendants said that the jury also overlooked the fact that the multiple surgeries that were done on the respondent, which consequently led to her developing fistula were done at the Fidelity Hospital and not the Movant’s facility, noting that the Jury failed to consider the testimony of Dr. Jerry Brown, when he testified that it was JFK’s intervention that repaired the fistula, when JFK recommended Dr. Sherman to do the surgery.
Because the jurors failure to take into account the relevant and material testimony provided by Dr. Kingsley Onaji, Movant/Defendant’s 3rd expert witness who testified that the gauze allegedly found in Plaintiff does not appear to be gauze that was in her couple of months (June -November 2019) rather it appears to be one that has been left there for couple of days.
It can be recalled that Madam Sehkelporh claimed in her complaint to the Civil Law Court Annexed “B that doctors at the hospital left an abdominal gauze in her body after a surgery, thereby causing further pains and complications.
Gauze is a thin often transplanted fabric chiefly used clothing or draperies; it is a loosely woven cotton surgical dressing used in medical centers for surgical purposes. The matter was filed in 2020 before the court, but the case takes center stage in this September term of the Civil law Court presided over by Judge Ousma Faika, who ensured the selection of the trial jury on Monday.
According to the complainant, Dr. Ernest Enders and Dr. Billy Johnson at the JFK Hospital performed an Abdominal Hysterectomy Surgery which was needed to have her ovaries removed due to possible ovarian cancer which had some alleged medical complications.
Madam Sehkelporh disclosed in the complaint that she was admitted at the JFK on June 12, 2019 for the surgery which was scheduled for June 13 and was discharged on June 16, 2019 with the assurance that the surgery had gone well and she was going to fully recover.
She stated that during her first visit to the hospital after the surgery, she was cleared by Dr. Enders who informed her after examination that she could go back to work and go about her other activities.
According to the complaint, the situation continued for over a period of five months without any improvement, draining her financially and Dr. Enders showed no interest in helping her out despite being in constant communication with him.
She revealed that she was scheduled for the third surgery and that JFK was immediately notified and the surgery was done, with the doctor informing her that she had developed a fistula.”
Through the help of her boss, she sought additional checkup at Jahmale Health Center which advised her to go back to JFK as they opined that she had serious medical issues that needed to be addressed by JFK. She then decided to visit Fidelity Health Center because of the severity of the pain.
At Fidelity Health Center, she said she was admitted by Dr. Obed Dolo through the arrangement with The Mitchell Group Inc. (TMG) to guarantee her stay at Fidelity since she did not have money to make an initial deposit before getting admitted.
She also claimed to have spent three weeks in isolation because of the level of bacteria that was in her system which could result in her death.
She furthered that there was also odour coming out of her body, noting that Dr. Dolo performed the surgery at Fidelity and opened the previous surgery done by Dr. Enders at the JFK to see what the cause of her for having pains in her belly that caused her stomach to swell.
“Plaintiff says that to the astonishment of the doctors, there was abdominal gauze found inside her body with pieces of her flesh stuck on it,” the complaint contained.
She lamented that when JFK management was informed about the incident, they only expressed regrets without helping in her recovery.
“Plaintiff further averred she was finally discharged from the hospital but after a few days, she went to take a shower and felt a thread hanging from her vagina and immediately went back to Fidelity Hospital to see her Doctor.”
After the doctor’s test, he immediately realized that it was another piece of gauze hanging out of her body and she was immediately admitted for another surgery. She was scheduled for the third surgery and JFK was immediately notified. The surgery was done and the Doctor informed her that she had developed a fistula,” the complaint stated.