International — 19 March 2013 — by Adele Ramos

Amandala has confirmed that the $2.13 million lawsuit won last year by Georgia Matute on behalf of her daughter Janae Matute, 12, against former government practitioner Dr. Raju Meenavali, is being appealed again—this time at the level of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), based in Trinidad and Tobago.

The allegation is that the doctor had miscalculated the age of the mother’s pregnancy, and so Janae was delivered at 36 weeks via C-section. The child was born with lung problems and developed a lifelong disability known as cerebral palsy. Her mom had told us in 2012 that although Janae goes to school, she has to personally do a lot for her: She has to be fed, clothed and bathed.

As we reported last April, the Belize Court of Appeal had upheld a ruling in favor of Janae, awarding her $2.13 million in damages, a reduction in the $2.5 million that the Supreme Court had awarded back in 2010.

Beyond making a case that the award in damages is excessive, Meenavali’s case before the CCJ flatly denies the allegation of medical malpractice.

Godfrey Smith, SC, is the attorney for Dr. Raju. He told Amandala today that, “We are going right to the heart of the matter and saying there was no negligence on his part.”

Smith said that although they were given leave to appeal in the Belize Court of Appeal, so far, the CCJ has not issued a date for the hearing.

Fred Lumor, SC, attorney for the Matutes, said that Janae was born in December 2000, and to date, she has not received any payments towards the damages awarded by the courts here in Belize.

Smith told our newspaper that in assigning liability to the doctor, the court “got it wrong.” He said that the court had not determined that Dr. Raju’s performance fell below the required standards for his profession.

The court had awarded $600,000 for lost wages, pain and suffering, and travel and medical expenses, to the mother, who had quit her job to take care of her child.

The court had also awarded Janae for future earnings, pain and suffering, loss of amenities, equipment, three vehicles in her lifetime, future accommodation, special education and a caregiver.

The matter will now be left in the hands of the CCJ to decide on the challenge being raised again by Dr. Raju’s attorney.

Apart from the Janae Matute case, the CCJ also has pending on its agenda a number of cases between the BCB Holdings/The Belize Bank and the Government of Belize, as well as former directors of Belize Telemedia Limited and the Government of Belize.

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