In documents filed in the Port-of-Spain Civil Court Registry, Nunez-Tesheira is suing a medical clinic based in La Romaine, a top urologist and an anesthesiologist, alleging negligence caused her husband’s death.
The Finance Minister has named Gulf View Medical Centre, urologist Dr Lester Goetz and anesthesiologist Dr Crisen Jendra Roopchand as defendants.
In separate defences filed in response to the claims made by Nunez-Tesheira, the defendants denied the allegations, noting that there was no reasonable cause of action against them.
Nunez-Tesheira is the widow and executrix of the estate of Russell Tesheira and brings the action on behalf of his estate under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act and for the benefit of his dependents under the Compensation for Injuries Act.
Yesterday, the matter was called before Master Brenda Paray-Durity in the Masters Court before it was adjourned to January 19, 2010, to give Nunez-Tesheira’s attorneys time to get an expert medical witness to testify in the case.
Nunez-Tesheira is alleging that her husband was put at risk when doctors performed transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) surgery on him.
She is insisting that the procedure should not have been performed on her husband and that the doctors involved in his care ought to have been aware that heavy bleeding was a risk of the TURP procedure. (During TURP, an instrument is inserted up the patient’s urethra to remove the section of the prostate that is blocking urine flow.)
Tesheira, Clico’s vice-president of sales and agencies administration, died on April 13, 2004, shortly after undergoing surgery.
The nature of the claim, the documents said, was that Tesheira, who was 53 at the time of his death, was a “strong, healthy man who had worked continuously at Clico as the vice-president, sales and agencies and administration with additional responsibility for administration and marketing of life pension products.”
He was also responsible for a sales force of over 500 agents with over 200 agency staff.
In the statement of claim, the Finance Minister outlined her husband’s annual earnings in 2003 as being over $3.8 million and noted that he paid for land taxes and the mortgage for property at 63 Hilltop Drive, Champs Fleur, telephone and mobile phone bills, clothing, holidays, family dining at first-class restaurants, university fees for the children and purchased an Audi A4 car and a town house for her. She is seeking damages equivalent to his earnings for each year since his death — an estimated $20 million for the past five years.
Nunez-Tesheira stated her husband’s annual salary and the payments outlined in her statement of claim would have continued had he remained alive.
As a result of his death, the lawsuit further noted, Tesheira’s annual salary and monthly payments were no longer available to his dependents and his wife had to pay the mortgage on the home at Champs Fleur at a higher interest rate of nine percent instead of the preferred six percent which he enjoyed as an employee of Clico.
The lawsuit also noted that Nunez-Tesheira no longer had the benefit of the perquisites from her husband’s employment at Clico “which included first-class travel, staying only at first-class hotels or five star hotels and trips abroad, dining out and attending functions and charity events as spouse of the deceased and a Christmas hamper every year worth approximately $5,000.”
In the 15-page statement of claim, Russell Tesheira’s cause of death was listed as cardiac failure and shock and haemorrhaging.
Nunez-Tesheira states that her husband was admitted to the medical centre for TURP surgery on February 3, 2004, but the procedure was aborted due to abnormal readings obtained from an ECG.
Tesheira was then referred to a cardiologist for medical advice as to whether he was medically fit to undergo the TURP procedure.
By letter dated March 15, 2004, the cardiologist advised that Tesheira had “an abnormal ECG pattern on the basis of athlete’s heart and an exaggerated form of physiologic hypertrophy with a 40 percent to 50 percent stenosis in the right coronary artery.”
He also advised, however, that Tesheira was fit for general anesthesia without special precaution and should be considered a standard risk.
Tesheira was admitted for surgery on April 13, 2004, and the TURP procedure was performed.
Several tests had been performed on him on March 23, 2004 prior to the TURP procedure.
According to the court documents, the TURP procedure was completed at 1.10 pm and he was warded until 3.30 pm that day and remained in the care of nurses at the medical centre.
The documents also state that Tesheira experienced heavy and continuous bleeding and the lawsuit alleges the medical professionals failed to monitor Tesheira’s vital signs and failed to measure, make any assessment of, or have any proper regard to the heavy bleeding he experienced.
The lawsuit also alleges that at about 3.10 pm on the day of the surgery, it was discovered that Tesheira was bleeding heavily and this was the first time he was observed since the TURP procedure was performed.It was stated that shortly thereafter Tesheira’s skin became cold and clammy and he complained of feeling nauseous and vomited.
He was then taken to an operating theatre where another surgical procedure was performed.
Blood tests were conducted and the Clico executive, whose blood type was A-positive, received blood transfusions, which included pints of O-positive blood, from 4.30 pm to 11.30 pm. Tesheira died at about 11.30 pm.
In her lawsuit, Nunez-Tesheira claims the defendants were required to consult her husband’s medical records and should have been aware that heavy bleeding was a risk of the TURP procedure and that he was at risk of excessive bleeding during and after the operation.
The lawsuit also claims that any blood transfusion should have been carefully managed to prevent the patient from experiencing fluid overload or other deleterious effect from it. The statement of claim, filed in the High Court on January 15, 2008, also lists in detail the particulars of negligence of the defendants named in the lawsuit. Nunez-Tesheira, in the lawsuit, said by reason of the negligence by the parties, her husband died and was “occasioned much pain and suffering and his dependants and estate have suffered loss and damage.”
Pursuant to Section 6 of the Compensation for Injuries Act, the Finance Minister named herself and three children for whose benefit the action was brought.
According to the lawsuit, the other dependants included the couple’s daughters Nicola and Coryse and Tesheira’s son, Christopher, who had been treated throughout the marriage as a child of the family.
In their defence, filed on February 26, 2008 and March 14, 2008, respectively, the named defandants denied each and every allegation and implication of fact contained in Nunez- Tesheira’s statement of claim.
Nyree Alfonso and Douglas Mendes SC, are representing Nunez-Tesheira while Kemraj Harrikissoon appears for Gulf View Medical Centre and Roopchand while Michael Hamel-Smith appears for Goetz.