SAN FERNANDO-based private hospital Gulf View Medical has failed in its attempt to have a urologist pay a portion of an $18 million judgment against it. The urologist performed surgery on the husband of former finance minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira.
Gulf View appealed a decision of Justice Frank Seepersad last November, when he shut down its claim that urologist Dr Lester Goetz must contribute to a court-ordered compensation for Nunez-Tesheira, insurance executive Russell Tesheira’s widow. The private hospital lost its appeal last week.
In a written decision, Justices of Appeal Nolan Bereaux, Gregory Smith and Prakash Moosai upheld Seepersad’s decision on the ground that the claim against Goetz was an abuse of the court’s process. In a 22 -page ruling, Bereaux and Smith delivered separate, but unanimous decisions. Moosai agreed with them, and had nothing to add.
Smith said there was no need to wait for a judgment of Tesheira’s claim against the hospital and anaesthesiologist Dr Crisen Roopchand before it decided to pursue its claim against Goetz for contribution and/or indemnity.
Two years after Justice Vasheist Kokaram held Gulf View and Roopchand liable for negligence in Tesheira’s death after a prostate operation in 2004, the claim against Goetz was filed on March 24, 2017.
Smith said Gulf View’s conduct occasioned unfairness and prejudice against Goetz, unjustly harassed and was oppressive against the urologist.
Bereaux, in his reasons, pointed out that not only did Gulf View not file an ancillary claim against Goetz, its defence at the trial before Kokaram was a joint defence with Roopchand, and one which supported Goetz’s competence.
In the claim for contribution, Gulf View’s lawyers argued it was Goetz who introduced Tesheira to them, had used the hospital’s facilities and there was a requirement for those who held practising privileges, to carry indemnity.
The former minister and Goetz entered into a settlement on September 21, 2012. The nature of the agreement was revealed at the appeal between Gulf View and Goetz to be $2 million. The private hospital and Roopchand have taken their challenge of the local courts’ negligence decision to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
In a ruling upheld by the Court of Appeal, on March 27, 2015, Kokaram awarded Nunez-Tesheira compensation of $18,034,722.33. Tesheira, 53, died hours after the operation on April 13, 2004 at the private hospital. Goetz was represented by Senior Counsel Christopher Hamel-Smith and Gregory Pantin. British Queen’s Counsel Mary O’Rourke, Anand Beharrylal and Alvin Pariagsingh represented Gulf View.