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Doc sues hospital, wins $4.2m

BY PAUL HENRY Co-ordinator — Crime/Court Desk henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2014    

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A jury of six yesterday awarded a medical doctor $4.25 million in damages, plus legal costs, in a libel suit she brought against Bustamante Hospital for Children and her former boss.

The award follows six days of evidence and submissions before Justice Leighton Pusey in the Supreme Court.

Following the verdict, Dr Sandra Williams-Phillips, 56, expressed elation during an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

"It has been four years of an unbelievable fight. Among the medical community they make their own laws... I stood up to everybody and I won," said Williams-Phillips, who has been practising for 30 years.

"I've been vindicated," she said with an easy chuckle. "The other doctors will now have strength."

Williams-Phillips filed her libel lawsuit in June 2010 against the South East Regional Health Authority, the attorney general and Senior Medical Officer Michelle-Ann Richards-Dawson over a notice concerning her that was posted in various sections of the radiology and cardiology departments of the Bustamante Hospital in February of that year.

According to the lawsuit, the notice stated that Williams-Phillips was dismissed and if she's seen there, the senior medical officer should be advised immediately.

During the trial that started last week, attorneys for Williams-Phillips argued that the innuendo and implication was that she had done something wrong.

The notice, it was further argued, has lowered Williams-Phillips, who was, at the time, an associate lecturer in the Department of Medicine at the University of the West Indies (UWI), in the eyes of "right-thinking" members of the society.

Yesterday, Williams-Phillips said that a lot of doctors have been wronged by the system while defending the interest of their patients.

"They need to step out. They have to do what's right," she said, advising them to speak up and seek vindication.

According to Williams-Phillips, the Ministry of Labour had, in 2010, ordered her reinstatement at the Bustamante Hospital and the UWI.

Williams-Phillips was represented by Oliver Smith, Hugh Wildman and Natalie Douglas, instructed by the firm Hamilton Brown-Hamilton and associates.

The defendants were represented by Lisa White and Tamara Dickens of the Attorney General's Chambers.

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