Local News

Jury: Fayetteville hospital negligent in child abuse case

Posted October 5, 2011 9:36 a.m. EDT
Updated October 5, 2011 12:04 p.m. EDT

— 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