Court says FL hospital not liable for deporting brain-damaged patient

A jury has ruled in favor of a Florida hospital that sent a brain-damaged illegal immigrant from Guatemala back to his home country over the objections of his legal guardian and family.

The case has been watched closely around the country by hospitals, many of which fear they too could be faced with a patient who requires costly long-term care, but has no insurance, and due to their immigration status doesn't qualify for government assistance.

The lawsuit, filed by the cousin of 37-year-old Luis Jimenez, sought $1 million from Stuart, FL-based Martin Memorial Medical Center to cover the lifetime costs of Jimenez' care in Guatemala. Jimenez, who in 2000 was riding in a van that was struck by a drunk driver, has the cognitive ability of a fourth grader.

Jimenez spent about three years at Martin Memorial until the hospital obtained a letter from the Guatemalan government assuring the hospital that it would look after the brain-damaged man. Using the letter, it convinced a Florida judge to approve a transfer to a facility there.

While Jimenez' cousin and legal guardian, Montejo Gaspar, appealed the ruling, Martin Memorial didn't wait to see what would happen. The hospital put Jimenez on a flight to Guatemala one day after Gaspar filed his appeal, before it had been decided.

To learn  more about the case:
- read this Associated Press piece

Related Articles:
Trend: Hospitals deporting uninsured immigrants
Family sues FL hospital for deporting patient to Guatemala