The claim by Gulf View Medical Centre filed against one of its surgeons for negligence arising out of the $18 million judgment against it two years ago by former Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Teshiera, was yesterday thrown out by a High Court judge.
Justice Frank Seepersad, presiding in the San Fernando High Court, ruled that the issue of contributory negligence was not raised in this ancillary claim filed by the Gulf View Medical Centre. In April 2015, the private medical institution and urologist Dr Lester Goetz were ordered to pay the millions in compensation to Nunez-Tesheira, for their alleged negligence which led to her husband’s death after a prostate operation in 2004. Goetz settled with Nunez-Tesheira and therefore, the judgment stands against the nursing home.
However, attorneys for the nursing home have since appealed the ruling. There was a full hearing of the appeal and judgment has been reserved by Appellate judges Allan Mendonca, Prakash Moosai and Judith Jones. According to the appellate court registry, judgment is due to be delivered on October 31.
The $18 million award is the largest ever made in the High Court in a medical negligence lawsuit in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Gulf View Medical Centre then filed a claim in which it contended that if there was any negligence at all, it was allegedly caused not only by the centre, but rather the doctor who conducted the surgery. The claim was filed on March 24 and attorneys for the urologist sought an extension from Seepersad to file a defence.
Seepersad granted them time. However, Goetz’ attorneys filed an application to stay the matter. An application to have the claim struck was then filed on the basis that if Gulf View Medical Centre wanted to sue him, it should have done so in reply to the substantive lawsuit filed by Nunez-Teshiera.
In an oral ruling, Seepersad said the centre’s prior attempt to issue a claim against Goetz was denied by Justice Vasheist Kokaram who made the $18 million judgment award to Tesheira.
It was also denied in the Court of Appeal, Seepersad said. The claim therefore is an abuse of process and the judge ordered that the claim to be struck out.