The fate of John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC) and some of its senior doctors accused of being responsible for the death of Representative Edward Forh’s daughter Nakita now rests in the hands of a nine-member sequestrated jury, who are expected to come down with a verdict today, Tuesday, at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia.
The empanelled jury, who has spent over a month in the basement of the Temple of Justice, would make the long-awaited decision in a case many legal experts consider a “landmark” case.
The jury’s decision comes after Forh’s and the JFK’s legal teams concluded their respective arguments to support some of their oral and documentary evidences to influence the jury’s verdict.
Those accused of being responsible for Nakita’s death included Dr. Wvannie-Mae Scott-McDonald, JFK General Administrator; Munah Tarpeh, Deputy for Administration; Tannie Sneh, Nursing Supervisor; Mary Howard Nyaquie, Administrator; Dr. Korto Dorbor; Dr. Billy C. Johnson, Chief Medical Officer; Dr. David Okiror, Staff Physician; Professor Joseph Njoh, Department Chairman on Internal Medicine; and the Administrator of the Ministry of Health.
The empanelled jury’s decision would also take into consideration the role played by each of the defendants leading to Nakita’s death.
If the jury were to agree that all of the defendants were directly involved in Nakita’s death, it means that whatsoever amount they would arrive at as penalty for the hospital to pay, will be distributed evenly among them (the accused).
Even though Rep. Forh is seeking US$25 million as damages for the wrongful death of his daughter, it is the jury and the court that would decide which amount JFKMC will pay if they were to be adjudged liable (guilty) today. On the contrary, the defendants would go free without paying Forh a dime for damages if the jury fails to find them culpable (guilty).
Nakita, who suffered from asthma, died on September 27, 2014, at the grounds of the hospital while gasping for air during the heat of the Ebola crisis in the country.
The lawsuit against the healthcare practitioners, according to Counselor Arthur Johnson, lead lawyer for the Forh family, is based on what he described as a “very devastating and frustrating experience,” which he claims caused the family significant damages and unforgettable state of trauma in which their daughter died.
Cllr. Johnson argued further that Nakita died in the arms of her father on the grounds of the hospital, while struggling and crying, calling for the hospital staff, who refused to allow Nakita to access their nebulizer, a breathing instrument.
For that reason, Rep. Forh is seeking not less than US$10 million in general damages; US$5 million in punitive damages; another US$5 million in compensatory damages; and US$5 million in substantial damages.
Meanwhile, although all the defendants denied the claim, it is the jury that will ultimately decide the gravity of the case today.