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Charmaine Pemberton

The Court of Appeal has encouraged lawyers representing a dentist and the mother of a 10-year-old boy, who had a broken surgical needle stuck in his jaw since 2013, to work together to bring relief to the child.

Appellate Judges Charmaine Pemberton and Prakash Moosai made the plea yesterday while presiding over a procedural appeal from the boy’s mother to reinstate her medical negligence lawsuit against the dentist.

Addressing the parties during the virtual hearing, both judges noted that while the attorneys were mulling over legal issues, the child, who cannot be identified as he is minor, still had to live with the needle stuck in his jaw.

“You have this child with a needle in his jaw and it doesn’t excite feelings to get this resolved? No, get to it. Get to solving this issue,” Pemberton said.

The judges suggested that they contact the University of the West Indies (UWI) for assistance.

“We have a specialist dental school. We have highly qualified local medical practitioners,” Moosai said, as he and Pemberton adjourned the appeal.

The appeal is expected to come up for hearing on December 21, with the parties scheduled to provide an update on their efforts to source medical assistance for the child.

According to the evidence in the case, the child’s mother took him to the dental surgeon in 2013 after he complained of constant toothaches.

The woman was advised that the child had an exposed nerve, which required surgery.

Two days after the surgery was done, the dentist contacted the child’s mother and told her that the needle, used in the root canal procedure, could not be found and that the child may have swallowed it.

An X-ray revealed that the broken needle was lodged in the child’s left jaw but surgery was not advised at the time.

An attempt was made to remove the needle three years later but it was unsuccessful.

In the lawsuit, the child’s mother claimed that another attempt would cost approximately $25,000.

During a hearing of the substantive case in July, High Court Judge Robin Mohammed struck out the woman’s claim as he ruled that she did not have a realistic prospect of success in her bid for compensation.

Presenting submissions on behalf of the child and his mother, attorney Shawn Roopnarine submitted that Mohammed should have allowed aspects of the case.

Roopnarine suggested that Mohammed improperly focused on the effect of the injury on the child over the actual injury. He said the judge could have ordered that expert evidence be sought before dismissing the claim.

Responding to the submissions, attorney Gregory Pantin, who represented the dentist, did not concede that Mohammed’s decision was wrong but admitted that he (Mohammed) could have considered allowing a portion of the lawsuit to go to trial.