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Judgment reserved in lawsuit over pub owner’s death

Published: 
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Judgment has been reserved in a $20 million medical negligence claim brought by the family of late businessman Ricardo “Smokey” McKenzie against the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre (BLCTC).

During a hearing of the case in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday, Justice Mira Dean-Armourer said she needed time to consider lengthy submissions filed by both parties.

She said she would seek to deliver her decision by the end of February next year.

McKenzie, 55, a brain cancer patient, received external beam radiation therapy at the BLCTC for six weeks in 2009. In June 2010, McKenzie, the co-owner of Smokey and Bunty bar in St James, underwent an operation for swelling in his brain. He was then taken to the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, for further treatment before he eventually died later that year.

In a lawsuit filed several months after his death, his widow Lisa claimed the BLCTC was negligent in administering radiation to McKenzie due to miscalibration of its Linac accelerator during the period he was treated. She also claimed the centre failed to take reasonable steps to notify McKenzie or his family that there was a miscalibration and the possibility that an overdose of radiation had occurred.

The BLCTC admitted that it was aware of a small miscalibration on its linear accelerator but claims to have promptly sought to have it adjusted, checked and verified at a calibration laboratory in the United States.

The centre claims the miscalibration did not cause McKenzie’s death which was due to the aggressive form of cancer he had and operations that were performed on him in the US.

McKenzie’s wife is seeking almost $20 million in compensation including US$500,000 spent on her husband’s medical treatment and just over $16 million in loss of his earnings.

McKenzie’s family is being represented by Terrence Bharath while BLCTC is being represented by Neal Bisnath, Ravi Nanga and Lydia Mendonca.

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