A South Florida jury has ruled in favor of Martin Memorial Medical Center, Stuart, where hospital officials were sued for a decision in 2003 to spend $30,000 to charter a jet to fly a brain-damaged illegal immigrant to his home country rather than provide him with rehabilitation care indefinitely.
The legal guardian for Luis Jimenez filed a civil lawsuit against the hospital, seeking money for lifetime care and punitive damages after the hospital flew the Guatemalan back to his native country. Guatemalan officials told the hospital they could provide for his care, although Jimenez was subsequently sent to live with his mother shortly after arriving in the country, where he remains today.
Jimenez was first brought to the hospital in 2000 after a drunken driver crashed into the car in which Jimenez was a passenger. Hospital officials said they spent more than $1 million on Jimenez' acute care, but could not find a rehab center to take him because he was uninsured and ineligible for state or federal aid because he was in the U.S. illegally.
It was not clear if Jimenez' guardian was planning an appeal. In a written statement, Martin Memorial Health Systems President and CEO Mark Robitaille urged lawmakers to resolve the issue for the sake of all the other hospitals facing similarly difficult situations. "What is truly unfortunate is that since Mr. Jimenez was first admitted to Martin Memorial nine years ago, nothing has been done to address this issue by our political leadership," he said.