BOSTON (CBS) – A jury has found Boston Children’s Hospital not guilty of medical malpractice in the trial involving Justina Pelletier. After a five-week trial, the jury deliberated for fewer than six hours, ruling in favor of the hospital.
Justina’s parents told WBZ-TV’s Kristina Rex they were “shocked” by the jury’s decision and their family is emotionally spent after what they have been through.
“We’re obviously very disappointed with the jury’s decision today,” Justina’s father Lou Pelletier said. “It was especially hurtful for our daughter Justina.”
The high profile case started back in 2013, when a then 14-year-old Justina was brought to the emergency room at Boston Children’s and doctors diagnosed her symptoms as psychiatric. Her parents disagreed with the diagnosis and tried to have her discharged.
That’s when the hospital reported them to the Department of Children and Families, accusing them of medical child abuse. Justina was separated from her parents for about 18 months before a judge ordered her returned.
The Pelletier family claimed that was medical malpractice. After the jury’s verdict siding with doctors, legal experts say there’s a clear takeaway.
“I will say this, six hours, a jury, after hearing all that testimony, that’s very quick verdict in a complicated case,” WBZ legal analyst Phil Tracy said. “It was ill-conceived, this lawsuit it shouldn’t have happened.”
In a statement, the hospital said, “The jury’s decision affirms what Boston Children’s Hospital has always believed: that our clinicians provided Justina Pelletier high quality, compassionate care, and always acted in the best interest of her health and well-being.”
Children’s Hospital doctors claimed the Pelletier family was contentious and combative throughout their caring of Justina, which led them to believe there was abuse going on.
The Pelletiers say their work is not finished. “Our goal now is to work as passionately as we can to ensure that no other family will ever have to endure what we have gone through,” Lou Pelletier said.