Seventeen years after his mother was involuntarily administered laxatives by medical professionals acting at the behest of federal agents, Jordan Taylor took the stand in a Miami-Dade County Courthouse on Monday to discuss the circumstances of his life that could be linked to that regrettable event.
On February 14, 1997, Taylor’s mother was detained by Customs Enforcement agents who suspected she was smuggling drugs into the United States. For the following three days, the mother, who is a U.S. citizen by birth and was seven months pregnant at the time, was held at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where medical professionals acting under the direction of the aforementioned Customs officials administered prescription laxatives in order to determine whether she was in fact carrying drugs.
The laxative administered to her, called GoLytely, had not been recommended for pregnant women in 1997, and its effects had not yet been studied in either pregnant women or pregnant animals. According to the complaint, Taylor’s mother complained of abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, but pressure to take the laxative persisted. Shortly after this unwanted stay at Jackson Memorial, she prematurely gave birth to Taylor.
Taylor’s testimony covered many topics usual for a high-school student, including classes and social activities, but it was also interspersed with discussion of behavioral and learning anomalies that may be attributable to his premature birth. In light of the risk of fetal injury, the Food and Drug Administration and drug manufacturers do not routinely test the effects of prescription drugs in pregnant women, so there is little or no reliable information regarding the risks involved when pregnant women take certain medications. Given this paucity of credible information, medical professionals often take particular care when prescribing medications to pregnant women, which make the facts of this case particularly disconcerting.
James Allen, the Assistant Miami-Dade County Attorney representing Jackson Memorial Hospital in this case, argued that the federal agents who detained Taylor’s mother and ordered administration of the laxatives were responsible for any injury resulting from the treatment. However, Barbara Heyer, the attorney for Taylor’s mother, argues that Jackson and its staff were, nonetheless, responsible for her medical care and should not carelessly follow the orders of Customs agents who are not medical professionals. Allen’s argument directing responsibility to the U.S. Custom officials likely strikes a sour chord with the actual victim, Taylor’s mother, who had already lost a separate lawsuit against the Federal Government. In fact, this is actually not even the first trial she has had in her case against Jackson Memorial and its medical staff. Two years earlier, this case went before a jury and ended in a mistrial.
In addition, even if the mother succeeds after this second trial, her ultimate recovery may not equate to the personal injury she suffered and the cost of legal efforts undertaken on her behalf. Pursuant to Florida’s Sovereign Immunity Statute, codified as § 768.28 in the Florida Statutes, recoveries against certain public hospitals in the State of Florida, including Jackson Memorial Hospital, are subject to monetary caps. In order to obtain recovery beyond those permitted by the cap, one must submit a “claims bill” directly to the State government, which will then make an independent judgment about whether to allow additional recovery and determine exactly the amount of additional relief, if any, to grant.
Acquiring justice for even the most seemingly obvious physical harms is an often complex process that can involve multiple parties and unforeseen limits on liability and recovery. The attorneys at Frankl & Kominsky are well-versed in all facets of medical malpractice in the state of Florida, and are prepared to provide assistance should you have a claim involving the negligence of medical professionals in South Florida. Our motto is “Never settle for less” and we subscribe strongly to that principle. We fight for our clients in and out of the courtroom to ensure they receive everything they deserve. Click here, or call 1-855-800-8000 today to schedule your free case evaluation with an experienced attorney.