Trojan News :: Real Time News

National

Court Dismisses Lawyer’s N20bn Suit Against Hospitals, FCT Minister On Wife’s Death

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has dismissed a N20bn suit instituted by a legal practitioner, Ejumejowo Anthony against two Abuja-based hospitals and the FCT Minister on the alleged negligence he claimed to have led to his wife’s death.

Justice Edward Okpe on Tuesday at the Nyayan Division of the FCT High Court, threw out the suit for lack of merit and substance.

Advertisement

Ejumejowo, a human rights activist, had slammed the N20bn suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2866/2021 against NISA Garki Hospital, NISA Premier Hospital and the FCT Minister as 1st to 3rd defendants, accusing them jointly of negligence in the ways and manner his wife, Eloho Ejumejowo, died on October 5, 2019, 21 days after childbirth.

He sued the three defendants on behalf of himself and his three children, Ejumejowo Eru-Oghene, Ejumejowo David and Ejumejowo Evawere.

Among others, they jointly demanded a N20bn from the defendants as compensation and damages for the death of Mrs. Ejumejowo due to alleged gross negligence by Garki Hospital, Abuja.

The claimants prayed the court for declarations as follows:

“That the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants are vicariously liable for the negligence of the doctors of the 1st defendant, an order directing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants to pay to them the sum of ten billion naira only as general damages for the emotional trauma caused by the death of Mrs. Elohor Esther Ejumejowo occasioned by the negligent conduct of the doctors of the 1st defendant.

“An order of court directing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants to pay to the claimants the sum of N5,000,000,000.00 (five billion naira) only as special damages for the emotional trauma caused by the death of Mrs. Elohor Esther Ejumejowo occasioned by the negligent conduct of the doctors of the 1st defendant.

“An order of court directing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants to pay to the claimants the sum of N5,000,000,000.00 (five billion naira) only as exemplary damages for the emotional trauma caused by the death of Mrs. Elohor Esther Ejumejowo occasioned by the negligent conduct of the doctors of the 1st defendant.”

However, after reviewing evidence of the claimants and the defendants, Justice Okpe agreed with Nekabari Annah, lead counsel to Garki Hospital that the claimants failed woefully to discharge the burden of their allegations to be entitled to the huge sums they claimed.

The Judge held that while Garki Hospital (1st) defendant, called three medical experts who testified and gave vivid account of how the deceased was managed till she delivered her baby, the lawyer gave a layman’s evidence that has no probative value.

Justice Ekpo said that while the hospital established that the deceased visited the hospital 23 times for antenatal care that led to her successful baby delivery, the claimants did not dispute or call medical experts to refute the robust evidence of the hospital.

The Court said that the failure by the claimants to call medical personnel to give evidence to help their case was a costly one, adding that they played into the hands of the three defendants.

Justice Ekpo also held that the report of a 14-man panel of consultants set up by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, which did not establish a prima facie case against Garki Hospital was not challenged by the claimants, thereby making their case to be unreliable.

The court held that the 28 days opportunity opened to the claimants to challenge the clean bill of health issued by MDCN to Garki Hospital was also not explored at the Court of Appeal to prove their allegation of negligence.

Justice Ekpo therefore agreed with Garki Hospital’s lawyer that the evidence of Dr Adamu Onu, the Medical Director was cogent and reliable to the effect that the deceased was professionally managed till she delivered her baby and that the hospital has facilities and personnel competent to manage the deceased.

In all, the Judge held that the allegations of negligence by the lawyer was to harass and intimidate the hospital which he said acted in line with the best practice in the medical profession.

The Judge dismissed another allegation that the deceased was induced to deliver through the virginal instead of a caesarean operation adding that all the claimants adduced before him were mere sentiments that have no place in law.

He subsequently dismissed the suit in its entirety and discharged both Nisa Premier Hospital and the Minister of the FCT because they were wrongly joined as parties in the suit.

Justice Ekpo also dismissed the counter claim of the Garki Hospital that it was defamed through false media reports allegedly instigated by the claimants.

The N250M demanded as compensation for the defamation was rejected by the Judge on the ground that the defamation was not properly established as required by law.

Anthony Ejumejowo had filed a civil action for negligence for the death of his wife at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory against Nisa Garki Hospital, Abuja and the two other parties after the death of his wife shortly after child birth in 2019.

Mrs Ejumejowo, died in October 5, 2019, at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, due to what the husband described as “gross negligence” on the part of doctors and management of Garki Hospital.

The issue was earlier entertained by a panel set up by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, sometimes in September this year in Abuja.

The outcome of the panel did not go down well with Ejumejowo, which made him to institute a legal action against the hospital asking for N20billion compensation as damages.

About The Author