T&T man files private criminal charges against doctors after wife dies during childbirth

(Trinidad Guardian) A little over two years after Crystal Ramsoomair bled to death at the San Fernando General Hospital, her husband has now filed private criminal charges against three of her doctors. Attorneys representing Lorne Ramsoomair filed the private complaints against the three doctors—Dr Mondira Seenath, Dr Deepavali Ramballack and Dr Ashmeed Mohammed—on Monday for the alleged unlawful killing of his wife.

A hearing of the charges is scheduled for next Tuesday at the San Fernando Magistrates Court. Ramsoomair’s husband is being represented by Senior Counsel Israel Khan and Ravi Rajcoomar.

According to court documents obtained by the T&T Guardian, Ramsoomair’s husband is alleging that the doctors “medically treated or failed to treat his wife in such a negligent manner which caused her death.” The charges were laid under Section 6 of the Offences Against the Person Act Chap 11:08.

Ramsoomair, 29, a mother of three, died at the San Fernando General Hospital on March 4, 2011, after undergoing a caesarian section procedure during the birth of her third child. Following her death, which sparked massive public outcry, her husband filed a lawsuit against the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), which operates the hospital, and the doctors, who treated his wife before her death.

Last November 2, the SWRHA, through its attorneys, accepted institutional liability for Ramsoomair’s death. The authority admitted it failed to provide proper medical and ancillary services to her. As a result of the admission of negligence, a judgment was entered against the SWRHA and damages were ordered to be assessed by a Master of the High Court.

That case came up before Master Patricia Sobion in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday morning and was adjourned to a date in November when a second case management conference would be held. Throughout the lawsuit, the doctors maintained their innocence and have denied being negligent and breaching their duty of care. After the SWRHA admitted liability, the three doctors applied to Justice Frank Seepersad to strike them off the medical negligence lawsuit.

In their application before Seepersad, the doctors claimed Ramsoomair’s husband could not recover further compensation against them by pursuing his claim since that would amount to double recovery. They alleged the continued claim against them amounted to an abuse of process. The doctors also claimed they were employees and/or servants of the SWRHA and were not independent contractors.

Seepersad eventually dismissed the application on January 25. The doctors appealed. Their procedural appeal was dismissed on April 8 by three Court of Appeal judges including Chief Justice Ivor Archie. In dismissing the appeal, Archie said that the Appeal Court found no faults in Seepersad’s earlier judgment. He also ruled that the continued claim against the doctors was not an abuse of process. The case against the doctors is still ongoing before Seepersad.

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