DC - Justina gets standing ovation from Congress

sweetmom

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The Miracle site has a new post with a link to a Boston Globe article that doesn't work so, what it says is:

"The KJC Law Firm is pleased to announce another stunning victory and land-mark decision! In the case of Justina Pelletier v. Alice Newton, M.D., et., al. a Suffolk County Superior Court Judge has rejected Dr. Newton's claim that she has immunity from civil prosecution for medical malpractice and civil rights violations as alleged by Justina Pelletier and her parents because she was a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse. Dr. Newton had reported that Justina may have been a victim of abuse in 2013, a claim that was never corroborated.
KJC Law Firm was able to convince the judge that the claims against Dr. Newton are not within the scope of immunity granted by the legislature to mandated reporters. This is a land-mark decision locally and nationally in the fight for parent's and children's rights."​

Maybe someone can locate the actual Boston Globe article reporting on this?

The link seems to be to the earlier Globe story. I found nothing about this on the Globe's website today. So all we have is the KJC law firm's take on this (and their assertion that it is a landmark case.) Reading further into their statement on the Miracle website, I see that KJC does acknowledge that Dr. Newton will have more opportunities to dismiss this case, via the Medical Tribunal. So it's not over, and in fact, if the Tribunal details are made public, this may not help the Pelletiers at all.
 

annahanna

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A search of the Boston Globe index and archives did not turn up any recent articles about Justina, the Pelletiers, or this lawsuit. I also could not find any reference to a "landmark decision" in this case in any major newspaper or media outlet. When I reread the Miracle FaceBook post, I realized that they were linking to a post on the KJC Law Firm's FaceBook. Interestingly, however, the KJC firm does not have this story in their "In The News" section on their website. It looks like a press release that got little to no notice by the media. That may be because the press release does not state the facts accurately.

According to the MA Trial Court Electronic Case Access report, the "Endorsement on Motion to dismiss" (#28.0) was DENIED. The court record states: "The allegations claim that Dr Newton participated in formulating a treatment plan not including the
SIA report.". What that means is that Dr Newton's team filed a motion to dismiss the case because, as a mandated reporter, she is immune to being sued. The Pelletier team argued that they were not suing her in her mandated reporter role, but in the role as treating physician. They claim that Dr Newton participated in formulating a treatment plan for Justina. They DID NOT have to prove that this was fact at this hearing. They simply had to make the claim. They will have to prove her participation at a medical malpractice tribunal.

There is nothing in the court record that overturns a previously held standard, established a new legal concept, or changed interpretation of existing law. Referring to this minor, and not very surprising, legal ruling as "landmark" is hyperbole at best.
 

sweetmom

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Thanks, AH, for the lucid explanation of the MA Trial Court Electronic Case Access report. It was just what I expected: smoke and mirrors to hide what actually happened, which turns out to be "not much." I too thought it suspicious that the law firm was touting it as a "landmark" ruling, but no media bothered to report on it. Believe me, the press is all too eager to report on important rulings with implications for other cases, so the lack of attention was very telling. And as with so much else in this convoluted case, hyperbole is the family's default position.

Is there any word yet in the Case Access report on when the Newton or other medical malpractice tribunals are scheduled to begin?
 

annahanna

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So far there is no indication of when the medial malpractice tribunal(s) will be held. I assume that we will see Dr Newton's attorneys file a formal request for a tribunal. I am not certain that is necessary, but the other 3 doctors did this. Even at the tribunal, the Pelletiers will not be required to prove their case. They will be required to show sufficient evidence that there MAY have been malpractice. If they win, discovery can resume and the case will move forward. If they lose, they COULD still move forward with the case - assuming that they are willing to post the required bond. I wonder if they will tap into the "Miracle for Justina" fund to cover this bond.
 

sweetmom

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If they think, even after perhaps losing in the Tribunal round, that they can still win the case (and by that, i mean make some serious money), then IMO they will post the bond and move forward. If they are certain they will lose the case -- and have their bad dealings exposed -- IMO they will drop it and set up a whining and moaning campaign about how the world is unfair to them, aimed at wringing the last drops of $$$$ from their gullible followers.

I'm betting on Door # Two.
 

Hatfield

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What a sad case. I feel sorry the most for Justina.

Below is JMO because I have not read near enough about the case.

I read some back and getting bits and pieces of what may or may not have happened and none of it sounds good for Justina.

I do know sometimes when you go to a Dr or hospital that it can be very hard to figure out what someone has. Sometimes a long time is needed before things can be ironed out and even sometimes no matter what is done the patient may not get better or can have side issues surface.

I just wish it would not have happened for Justina. I do feel that unreasonable pressures were put on hospitals and doctors somewhere along the line and I think that created an atmosphere where hospital was forced to go on defensive. Once that happened then the best thing would have been to change hospitals and doctors right away before things escalated.

Just like when we go see a dentist or doctor and we are not happy with them we sometimes have to leave to try someone else.
Same thing in my opinion for hopsitals. Sometimes you may like the care you are getting and sometimes you may not. But once it got to a point where it was not working then it is up to the person and guardians to try somewhere else before things get out of hand. It could have been handled much better I feel.

I think it became hostile and then for whatever reason a change was not made soon enough before things got way out of hand.

The other thing is it is possible that no matter where Justina went the same types of problems with her health could have happened. So it may not have been anything anyone could have done and she may have had similar issues no matter where she went.

If I had to guess as to the source of the original health issues I do suspect something related to her gastro issues was tied to it.
I think I read where it was known she had gastro issues before for some time. I think something may have gotten worse and when it hit her then it hit her hard and her symptoms may have seen like something new when it could have been a symptom related to the origingal gastro issues.

Anyway just a sad story. I do hope she can get better and in good health someday.

The lesson I take away from this story is a lesson I already learned. When you don't like the care from a dr or hospital then keep the relationship as civil as possible and try to change in normal ways. It only makes things worse when hostiilty starts to happen and the patient will surely not get the needed care when people have to go on defensive. People are forced to protect themselves and when that happens the focus is not on the patient as much as it should be.
 

annahanna

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<snip> I do feel that unreasonable pressures were put on hospitals and doctors somewhere along the line and I think that created an atmosphere where hospital was forced to go on defensive. Once that happened then the best thing would have been to change hospitals and doctors right away before things escalated.

<snip>I think it became hostile and then for whatever reason a change was not made soon enough before things got way out of hand.

The other thing is it is possible that no matter where Justina went the same types of problems with her health could have happened. So it may not have been anything anyone could have done and she may have had similar issues no matter where she went.
<snip>
Although I firmly agree that sometimes the best thing to do is to change doctors when we are unhappy with the care we are receiving, this situation was a bit more complex then not changing doctors/hospitals soon enough.

The parents now claim that they brought her into the hospital due to the flu, but that is simply not correct. Linda Pelletier brought Justina into the ER at Boston's Children's in very bad condition. She was slurring her words, was unable to walk, choking on her own saliva, eyes rolling into the back of her head, etc. (Neurological symptoms, not flu symptoms.) They arrived in the middle of the night, on a weekend, in a significant snowstorm, after a 100+ mile trip by ambulance from their home in West Hartford, CT to the hospital in Boston, MA. Linda Pelletier demanded to see a specific Gastroenterologist - who was not on duty that weekend. The parents clim that their doctor at Tufts told them to take her to see this doctor as he had treated Justina in the past when he worked at Tufts. Forgetting about the fact that a Gastroenterologist would have been the wrong specialty for Justina's presenting symptoms, the reality is that NO MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL would have sent them on a dangerous and harrowing journey across state lines to see a doctor who did not expect them.

The doctors at Boston Children's had a legal obligation to evaluate Justina and provide the best possible care for the symptoms that she was exhibiting at that time. During the evaluation it was determined that it was unlikely that she had Mito, as the mother insisted. The public has not been privy to in-depth medical information, but something in Justina's and Linda's actions, behavior, and speech led the doctors to suspect over medicalization and medical abuse. Regardless of what the Pelletier's have stated, the Department of Children and Families also saw evidence of abuse, and the judicial system concurred. All of these people saw the medical file that the public has not seen. Children's hospitals do not make a habit of recklessly accusing parents of child abuse. If they did that, they would quickly shut their doors due to lack of patients.

As soon as abuse was suspected, the medical professionals had a legal duty as mandated reporters to report their concerns to the Department of Children and Families. The Pelletiers had been reported and investigated twice before. One of the earlier reports was made by her health care team at Tufts. The Pelletiers were not newbies to the child welfare system. Since it took 3 days for the abuse determination to be made and reported, Linda had plenty of time to have Justina discharged against medical advice - just as she did at CT Children's Hospital just days before. I have no idea why she did not try to do so sooner. Perhaps she knew that removing her from a hospital against medical advice too many times would trigger a new investigation?

Justina has been seen and treated by multiple other doctors and hospitals since she was returned to her parents' custody. She has had numerous setbacks and hospitalizations, and several unexplained surgeries. Not once has the family come out with a statement that her new doctors have confirmed a Mito diagnosis in Justina. Justina and her current doctors may or may not know exactly what is wrong with her, but at this time, the public does not. (And honestly, should not.) As a parent of a chronically ill child who has been treated a Boston Children's (and elsewhere), I can tell you that the Pelletier Family's statements and stories to not make sense. I can also tell you that the time period that Justina was at BCH, I encountered her and/or her parents a few (thankfully brief) times. They were rude, demanding, poorly behaved, profane, and at times flat out ridiculous. The circus they created at the entrance to the hospital - even after Justina had been discharged to Wayside - was annoying and dangerous to other people's children's health.
 

sweetmom

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Thanks for this beautifully written and very cogent summary. I wish all of the family's uninformed supporters, who follow their line and blame everything on BCH and Mass. DCF, could read it and ponder it. I remain hopeful that the tribunals (or subsequent malpractice trial, if there is one) would make all this public.
 

annahanna

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Thanks Sweetmom. I too hope that the Tribunals shed some light on the true facts of this case. I know that the results of the Tribunal are public record, but I am not sure exactly how to access the records. As soon as I have a bit more time, I will research that. Although I don't think the hardcore Pelletier supporters will ever accept the truth, I do hope that information posted here at least increases the likelihood that the whole story will eventually come out.
 

annahanna

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Dr Newton has filed her answers to the Pelletier's second ammended complaint. She has also filed a request for a medical malpractice tribunal in the field of pediatrics. That makes it 4 different specialty areas for the malpractice tribunals; psychiatry, psychology, neurology, and now pediatrics. So far there is no word on when these will be held.
 

annahanna

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A medical malpractice tribunal has been scheduled for August 23, 2016 at 2:00 PM. The calender has been updated but so far I don't see any notation in the docket info (notice to appear, etc). It is not clear to me if this malpractice tribunal is for one doctor or all four.
 

sweetmom

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Thanks for the update!
I'm betting this is for one doctor, and that the others will all want their own day in court. But we shall see.
 

annahanna

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The Pelletier family's legal team filed their offer of proof with the court on August 10th in preparation for the malpractice tribunal scheduled for August 23rd. It is still unclear if this tribunal is for one practioner or all of them. An attorney friend has told me that it may be 1 tribunal that has the capacity to review all of the specialty areas.
 

sweetmom

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thanks for the update. I'm sure the court would prefer one tribunal, to get this thing moving or over with, but IMO, the family loves to draw things out as long as possible, in order to seek more sympathy, more publicity and quite likely more donations, so they may ask for individual tribunals.
Perhaps they think annoying the court/judge/jury is just the cost of doing business. Anyone care to bet whether they'll seek another postponement of the planned Aug 23 proceedings?
 

annahanna

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According to the MA Trial Court Case Access record, the tribunal was held today as scheduled. There is not yet an indication as to the decision. There is also no mention of the tribunal or the decision on the Miracle FaceBook. That indicates to me that the Pelletier team did not get a an immediate positive outcome. (I believe thar) Either no decision has been reached yet or the tribunal ruled against them and they now have 30 days to post the required bond. we will see what happens....
 

sweetmom

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Thanks for the update. Looking forward to hearing more as the outcome becomes known.
 

annahanna

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According to the MA Trial Court Case Access record:
"The medical malpractice tribunal made up of Hon. Linda E Giles, Dr. Eric Dessain MD and Michelle Mannix, Esq., having met on 08/23/2016 02:00 PM Malpractice Tribunal reports that there is sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question as to liability appropriate for judicial inquiry."
This tribunal applied to all defendants in the case.

It should be noted that this does not mean that the Pelletiers will necessarily win at trial. This was a 2 hour review of the allegations the plaintiffs' have made and an initial judgement as to the appropriateness of continuing on to a judicial review. Although i am a little surprised ay the outcome, this really wasn't an attempt to delve into the details or validity of the allegations.

Interestingly, Dr Eric Dessain, MD appears to be a Psychiatrist and Neurologist in MA who also specializes in Clinical Pharmacology. That's a pretty close match to the specialties involved in this case and the allegations that the Pelletiers have made about Justina being medicated.

I assume that this means that discovery will begin again. So far, no court date has been set.
 

sweetmom

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This is going to drag on, as the kids say, 4evah!
Still, a full judicial review, with details and testimony by the docs and BCH would surely be enlightening.
Is there a link for those of us who would like to read the MA Trial Court Case Access record?
 

1&2&3

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Just checking in. Honestly, I am so tired of the shenanigans that have gone on in this case and that have dragged on for far too long!

What a surprise to see the judge's ruling "there is sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question as to liability appropriate for judicial review". I had to read it twice to make certain I read it correctly. Finally, the Pelletiers will get their case heard, by an impartial judge, and we will see where it goes from here.

I can't imagine that all four doctors are going to be found innocent. It seems they had to be working in agreement with each other, or the ones in disagreement kept quite. However, now that their license and/or a malpractice suit may be brought against them, it will be interesting to see what shakes loose!

Also, we may see some quick transfers out of state of said doctors.

My opinions only.
 
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