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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Hospitals Still Face Suit for Limb Amputations

(CN) - The mother of a girl whose arms and legs were amputated can proceed with a lawsuit claiming that doctors did not act quickly enough to save the girl's limbs, a Florida appeals court ruled.

Queen Seriah Azulla Dabrio sued the Memorial Regional and Jackson Memorial hospitals for their care of her daughter, Shaniah Rolle, since her birth in 1996.

The child's medical problems began immediately, as she underwent surgery for the life-threatening condition of gastric perforation when she was 1 day old.

Three years later, Shaniah was in grave danger again, as she suffered from gangrene and an infection that cut off the blood from her extremities.

Dabrio agreed with doctors that they had to save Shaniah's life by cutting off her arms below the elbow and her legs below the knee.

But Dabrio alleged in her lawsuit that Jackson emergency room doctors did not act quickly enough in the first 90 minutes after Shaniah's arrival and that the girl's arms and legs could have been saved.

The Public Health Trust, representing Jackson, claimed immunity from the lawsuit, but the trial court did not agree.

So it petitioned the Miami-based 3rd District Florida Court of Appeals for certiorari relief.

The trust claimed that Dabrio has reached the cap for which the state can be found liable since she settled her lawsuit with Memorial Regional hospital for $200,000. The appeals court denied that point because the trust did not prove that the hospitals' alleged negligence arose from the same incident.

In a second point, the trust claimed immunity under the Good Samaritan Act, but the appeals court ruled that it must make that case at trial.

"This is a fact-specific defense for which the trust will have the burden of affirmative proof at trial. It does not fall within that narrow range of cases involving 'discretionary functions of government that are inherent in the act of governing and therefore immune from suit," Judge Frank Shepherd wrote for the court.

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