SolerLaw and his clients have obtained a huge victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. In the case of Hazel Cruz v. Hospital Menonita, civil 11-2297 (press this link to view the complete opinion, http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/getopn.pl?OPINION=11-2297P.01A), Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, Honorable Juan Torruellas, issued the written opinion that revoked Honorable Judge Fusté from the United States District Courts for the District of Puerto Rico. Judge Fusté dismissed the lawsuit alleging lack of federal jurisdiction under the federal statute EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Acto). Said statute protects the rights of patients who turn to a hospital’s emergency room when they have a medical emergency condition or are in active labor.
Hazel Cruz was in her third trimester when she sustained a vaginal bleeding. She immediately went to Menonita’s Hospital emergency room, where her doctor provided services. Dr. Brenda Torres, emergency doctor confirmed the vaginal bleeding, but did not treat her. Further still, Dr. Torres failed to activate the hospital’s medical protocol for patients suffering from bleedings in their third trimester. Said medical protocol requires that, patients with Hazel’s same symptoms, be practiced a series of tests as a way of determining the origin of the bleeding. Nevertheless, Hazel was discharged without being treated. Her obstetrician, Dr. Edward Gomez, was called, but never arrived to the hospital in order to evaluate her.
Next morning, Hazel went to Dr. Gomez’s office, but it was too late. Hazel was in labor due to lack of medical treatment the night before. Her baby was born prematurely and because the baby’s lungs were not developed, she died of respiratory causes. Put into effect the medical protocols and practiced the required tests, the active labor would have been discovered and the stopped on time, saving the baby’s life.
The First Circuit of Boston explained in its opinion that Hazel had presented enough evidence to sustain a conclusion of disparate treatment under EMTALA for not receiving the same treatment as other patients with the same symptoms, and remanded the case in order for it to be a trial by jury. We will keep you inform as to the jury’s verdict.