Court fines hospital N.5m for detaining baby’s corpse, parents

Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 21 July 2018 | 2,267 times

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The cost of N500,000 has been awarded by the Anambra State High Court against Iyi Enu Mission Hospital in the Idemili Local Government Area of Anambra State for unlawful detention of the corpse of a child and the parents for non-payment of hospital bills.

The judgement in suit No: 0/255/2017 which was passed by the Anambra State High court came on the heels of a lawsuit filed by Mrs Ngozi Osegbo and Mr Chinonso Osegbo against the Synod of the Diocese on the Niger who are the Registered Trustees and owners of the hospital.

The court presided over by Justice Osuma ruled that the hospital's refusal to discharge their patient for reason of non-payment of medical bills amounted to false imprisonment.

The Hospital had reportedly locked up the plaintiffs insisting that the only criteria for their discharge would be completing the payment of their bills.

A ruling made available to journalists in Awka on Friday said: “The plaintiffs had taken their 11months old baby to Iyi Enu Mission Hospital for treatment, but he died while undergoing treatment.

“The Hospital thus detained the plaintiff for more than 10 hours despite every plea to allow them put themselves together and sought for funds.

“The plaintiffs had to approach the court for the following reliefs to wit:

“A declaration that the defendants owed the plaintiff’s child (Marvelous Osegbo) a duty of care, and they breached that duty which resulted in his death.

“A declaration that the action of the defendants’ security men in denying the plaintiffs exit from the hospital and threat of grievous bodily harm with gun amounted to false imprisonment.”

The claimants, however, asked the court “for general damages in the sum of N500,000 and 35% interest per annum (or prevailing CBN interest rate) of the judgment sum from date of judgment until final liquidation of the judgment debt.

Delivering the judgment, the court held that the plaintiffs had proved their case.

The court explained that close scrutiny of evidence PW1 and PW2, showed that “their evidence in that respect which is consistent with their pleading and not contradictory were not challenged under cross-examination by the defendants and therefore accepted by same.”

The court, which decried the measure the hospital took to recover its bill, noted that the detention of the plaintiffs for ten hours resulted in false imprisonment.

The ruling further reads: “The act of the defendants in detaining the 1st plaintiff for 10 hours in the circumstance of this case no doubt constitutes acts of false imprisonment. I must deprecate the uncivil and indecent way and manner the defendants recovered the said hospital bill.

“It is not expected that the first defendant (hospital) particularly will engage itself in such uncivil and illegal means of debt recovery.

“Much as this court recognises the fear in the disappearance of patients when it comes to payment of hospital bills or debts generally, I do not find it sufficient to justify illegality that two wrongs do not make a right.”

The court, therefore, the award’s the sum of N500,000 against the Registered Trustees of the Synod of the Diocese on the Niger that owns Iyi Enu Mission Hospital together with 35% interest on the judgment sum until final liquidation of same.

Source: News Express

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