Perspectives on where our world is heading from a vantage point in Denver, Colorado.
02 January 2014
Seeking the Wrong Remedy For A Real Wrong
Nailah Winkfield took her 13-year-old daughter, Jahi McMath to Children's Hospital Oakland for tonsil surgery that ended up killing the girl. She is brain dead. No other medical professional has contradicted this conclusion. This horrible outcome, compounded by the fact that this case "just happens" to involve a black family dealing with a predominantly white and Asian medical establishment, hasn't helped the family develop much trust in the hospital.
The dead girl's grief striken family is in denial and won't admit that she's dead. They are represented by a lawyer who has been litigating on their behalf in both the state and federal courts to keep the dead girl on life support. Those resources are first of all expensive, and second of all may not be available for someone who needs them if they are tied up with this case.
The trouble is that, as any reasonable lawyer would advise his client (and this one may have tried to convince his clients), no Court can bring a dead girl to life. The Courts can only award monetary damages for what was almost surely an instance of grievous malpractice by at least some of the medical professionals and hospital staff involved (if I were the family's lawyer, I would focus initially on the anesthesiologist, who seems most likely to make this kind of mistake), and they might very well settle a case like this one rather than go to trial.