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Jury: Fayetteville hospital negligent in child abuse case

Posted October 5, 2011

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— A Cumberland County jury has awarded a boy and his father nearly $25 million, ruling that a hospital was negligent when its employees didn't notice the boy was a victim of child abuse.

But The Fayetteville Observer reported (http://bit.ly/nrNvOS) that Cape Fear Valley Health System will pay less than the jury's award of $20 million to 14-year-old Ajamu Gaines Jr. and $4.8 million to his father, Ajamu Gaines Sr. The two sides reached a private settlement following the verdict Monday.

Testimony showed Ajamu was brought to the hospital in 2003 with old and new broken bones and again three months later with a brain injury to the then 6-year-old. Doctors eventually found scars and broken ribs that indicated more than 50 injuries dating back six months.

An attorney said the hospital disagrees with the verdict and believes that its employees did everything they could for the boy.

Ajamu lives in Charleston, W.Va., with his father, who said the money will ensure lifelong care for his son.

The brain injury left Ajamu with spastic quadriplegia, which means that he has partial control over only one arm and none over his legs. He smiles and hugs his father, but it's unclear how much he understands.

At the time of his injuries, Ajamu lived in Spring Lake with his mother, Wyenda Phelps, and her boyfriend, Johnny Kegler. Kegler, now 36, was charged with attempted murder but convicted of two counts of misdemeanor child abuse and placed on probation, according to state Department of Correction records.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer

24 Comments

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  • SouthernGirlJD Oct 7, 2011

    "Johnny Kegler. Kegler, now 36, was charged with attempted murder but convicted of two counts of misdemeanor child abuse and placed on probation, according to state Department of Correction records."
    I will never understand how someone who did such damage to a child gets 2 misdemeanor counts and is on PROBATION! He should be put to death!

  • kermit60 Oct 6, 2011

    The amount may seem a bit excessive, but this is what makes people change. The hospitals staff are people and can make mistakes. However this child was a textbook case for child abuse recognition and even the newest staff member should have been able to spot the problem. These hospitals are quick to take recognition and payment when they save a life but should be held accountable in cases like this. The only thing is missing is the name of the doctor or administrator who is going to jail for such gross negligance.

  • itsmyownopinion Oct 6, 2011

    HeresWhatIThink, I was asking the same question you just did. What did the father do to try to get this child away from the mother and boyfriend? Of course we acknowledge the laws usually favor the mother, and that's not always the fair or right way.

  • maz6123 Oct 5, 2011

    If this is the best this hospital can do, they need to be shut down. My opinion only.

  • dollibug Oct 5, 2011

    NC should step up to the needs and concerns of children....it is a shame that no one pays attention....The system is badly broken or either a lot of people ARE NOT doing their jobs one....there are so many laws in place with NO ONE to make sure that THE LAWS ARE FOLLOWED....they all just sit back and say...they CAN NOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL there is a reason....and then IT IS TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE....

  • YNCSW51 Oct 5, 2011

    Prayers are with the child. Sad story. The boyfriend will get his justice one day.

  • danunger Oct 5, 2011

    Easy fix, any child injuries go straight to Family Services, not really. This is why our system is so screwed up, first of all, what is the lawyers cut, then tell me it will take that amount of money to care for the child for the rest of his life, I am not buying it.

  • puzzled Oct 5, 2011

    So, we hold the hospital employees quilty and any one employee probably saw him only once but the legal system says they should have know, but the father and mother who should have seen him everyday had no responsibility. Whoa! This country has gone crazy. It's all about how can we get more money. So, why should the father have gotten 4.8 million dollars. He should have his tail put in jail.

  • we_all_have_it_coming Oct 5, 2011

    Disgusting verdict.

    Why 25 million?

    Why not just pay for the kids treatment for life?

    Who comes up with the carp? Nobody went to jail for this horrible crime... so why is the hospital at fault for not detecting abuse in someone's home?

    I agree that the kid needs assistance, but giving his dad access to 25 million? (or whatever)

    Why was he not charged for keeping up with his son and reporting this abuse to authorities? (oh... you mean he didn't notice it, either?)

    America blows.

  • airbornemonty Oct 5, 2011

    We can't snicker at the South of the Border laws or any other countries laws when our own laws are so weak.

    Both child abusers, the stepfather and mother get off scott free, no wonder these type of people feel free to do as they please.

    Our laws have become what is called, Paper Tigers, all paper work and no action.

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