CNMI govt settles medical malpractice lawsuit

The CNMI government has settled the medical malpractice claims of a woman who said surgical clamp was left inside her abdomen during surgery in 2000 and that it was only discovered and removed from inside her almost 14 years later in Guam.

Remedio Elameto and her common-law husband, Pedro Pua, who joined the lawsuit, informed the Superior Court yesterday through their lawyer, Joseph E. Horey, that their dispute with the Commonwealth has been settled.

Horey said a notice of dismissal will be filed as to their claims against the CNMI upon their receipt of all the consideration outlined in the settlement agreement.

Horey asked the Superior Court to stay Elameto and Pua’s claims against the CNMI government, pending the filing of the notice of dismissal.

Elameto and Pua sued the CNMI government and two former CHC physicians, Rajee Iyer and Gary Ramsey, for medical malpractice, bad faith, and emotional distress and loss of consortium.

Elameto had surgery at the Commonwealth Health Center in August 2000 to address her irregular periods and ovarian cysts. She said a 15-centimer-long surgical clamp was left inside her body and it was only in June 2014—almost 14 years later—when the surgical clamp was discovered and removed at the Guam Memorial Hospital.

In his ruling on Aug. 11, 2017, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho invalidated the substitution provisions of the Government Liability Act.

Camacho ruled that the Government Liability Act’s damages cap, substitution provision, prohibition on punitive damages, and restriction on the availability of jury trials fail constitutional examination.

The ruling prompted the Office of the Attorney General and Ramsey to file a joint request for the court’s immediate issuance of an order staying the case pending their appeal to the CNMI Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s online calendar shows that the appeal in Elameto’s case is coming up for oral argument on Sept. 25, 2018.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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