High Court in Fort Portal City has held Dr. Karungi Christine liable for negligence, which resulted in the death of an expectant mother who had been admitted to Ntara Health Centre 1V with labour pains, awaiting delivery.
The unfortunate incident occurred on the night of 29th March 2022, when an expectant mother identified as Biryomumaisho Tracy, who had been receiving antenatal care at Ntara Health Centre, checked into the same health facility to deliver her child, but was neglected by the medics, which resulted in her death.
Following Biryomumaisho’s demise, her brother Keita Zaid plus parents identified as Tumusiime Madia (mother) and Ahebwa Muhammed (father) sued Kitagwenda Local Government, Dr. Karungi for negligence and Dr. Kyarikunda Dativa, claiming that their beloved one wouldn’t have died had medics at the Health Centre duly performed their duties as required by law.
But in a bid to derail the case and frustrate justice from being meted out to the bereaved family, Dr. Karungi, through her lawyer Arinaitwe Rajab of Mujurizi, Arinaitwe and Byamukama Advocates, filed an application in court, arguing that the deceased’s family had no legal mandate to sue her in her capacity as the Medical Officer who was in charge of Ntara Health Centre IV on the fateful night Biryomumaisho died.
However, the High Court in Fort Portal presided over by the resident judge, his Lordship Vincent Wagona, has since ruled that Dr. Karungi can be sued by the parents of the late Biryomumaisho.
Justice Wagona’s ruling, which is dated June 8th, 2023, was in response to an application by Dr Karungi that the parents and a brother of the late Biryomumaisho have no legal capacity to sue her.
The ruling by the high court is to the effect that Karungi has a case to answer and condemned costs of the application on her.
Speaking to this website about the matter, the deceased’s family lawyer, Counsel Aruho Amon, of Mubiru & Aruho Advocates, confirmed that Karungi’s preliminary objection was overruled by the court with costs.
“The bill of costs against Dr Karungi amounting to Shs 20,000,000 (Twenty million shillings only) is being prepared and she will have to pay it now,” Counsel Aruho said.
He added; “However, I will not go into details of the case because it’s against the subjudice rule.”
This website got an opportunity to peruse the said ruling, wherein the learned trial Judge, quoted verbatim, ruled thus;
“It’s my view that the pleadings disclose that the plaintiffs enjoyed a right being the support they received from the deceased. That the right was violated by the defendant, who negligently caused death and the plaintiffs have suffered loss of the said support from the deceased, and the defendants are responsible including the 2nd defendant Dr Karungi Christine. At this stage, the Court does not determine the merits of the parties’ claim…”
Genesis Of Matter
Information obtained by this website indicates that Biryomumumaiso reported to Ntara Health Centre IV at 11:00 Am on March 29th, 2022 with labour pains, but the doctor on duty, identified as Dr. Karungi Christine, was not available and she did not answer her phone calls when the patient’s caretakers called.
Documents on court records also seen by The Standard indicate that Biryomumumaiso stayed at the health facility waiting for the Doctor until her uterus ruptured and she bled to death at around midnight of March 29 2022.
Dr. Karungi, a medical officer who is the Acting District Health Officer, and her colleague Ms Kyarikunda Dativa, who were responsible for the patient’s health at the time, have since been put in the spotlight for having neglected their duty, thereby occasioning Biryomumaisho’s death.
Karungi’s colleague Kyarikunda was faulted for neglecting her duty by refusing and or neglecting to refer the deceased to another health facility until it was too late to save her.
The Plaintiffs claimed that Kitagwenda District is severally liable for failure to perform its oversight mandate as the employer of Karungi and Kyarikunda at Ntara Health Centre IV.
Both biological parents of the deceased, to wit Tumusiime and Ahebwa, through their Lawyers Mubiru, and Aruho Advocates, together with Enforcement of Patients and Health Workers ‘Rights (EPHWOR) filed a plaint at Fort Portal High Court on the 27th of August 2022 and the defendants were issued with summons to file a defence in 15 days, which has since been watered down by Justice Wagona’s ruling.
Following the court ruling, the matter has since been formally scheduled for September 21st, 2023 for hearing, awaiting final judgement.
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