Jodian Fearon fight not over - Buchanan wants video evidence released
The lawyer representing the family of Jodian Fearon, the first-time mother whose death drew national outrage because she was denied access to healthcare at several hospitals, has strongly disagreed with the decision of Jamaica’s chief prosecutor not to refer the case to a coroner’s jury for criminal liability.
With sights set on a civil case, attorney-at-law Isat Buchanan is pushing to have access to the video evidence that showed Fearon’s tragedy unfolding.
Fearon, who was 23, was initially not admitted at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Victoria Jubilee Hospital after she presented with symptoms perceived as similar to those displayed by COVID-19 patients.
She later delivered her baby at Spanish Town Hospital and then was transferred to the UHWI, where she died in April.
Fearon tested negative for the virus.
In a summary of the ruling released on Wednesday, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn concluded that “there was no material to establish the negligence or incompetence of any doctor or any other person”.
The DPP said that the threshold to prove criminal negligence was very high and that the material reviewed would not able to establish the charge.
Llewellyn further said that a coroner’s jury would inevitably reach the same conclusion as outlined in her ruling.
“It is clear from the material on file that the unease occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding Ms Fearon’s status may have contributed to what appears to be the uncoordinated, indecisive efforts, and tardy response by the health institutions/medical personnel in Jamaica’s public-health sector or from her personal physician,” the report stated.
But insisting that the pursuit of justice was not anchored on a bid to have anyone imprisoned, Buchanan told The Gleaner that the DPP should have recommended that the case be put to a coroner’s jury.
“We certainly disagree with her finding that a jury properly constituted would have come to the same conclusion as her as the standard when it comes to part four of the test that the treatment is palpably wrong. That is a matter for a jury to find,” Buchanan contended.
A post-mortem revealed that the first-time mom died from heart failure.
The fight for justice is not over, however, as Fearon’s family is pressing to get a hold on hospital footage that the DPP’s office reportedly reviewed.
But the proposed defendants have not yet been determined, Buchanan told T he Gleaner, stressing that the family needs to see the video evidence before making a decision.
Buchanan said he intended to get a court order to obtain the video.
“To date, notwithstanding the statement of the prime minister that there would be transparency and access, certainly to the family, that has not happened,” Buchanan said.
“It is a complex case. We certainly don’t intend to throw the kitchen sink at the court and have any hope that it will resolve itself. We are spearfishing. We are not net-fishing. We just want justice for Jodian,” he added.