In the case of 7-year-old Kamiya’s death, Children’s of Alabama claims wrongful death law is unconstitutional

Local News

Kamiya Dufermeau died at Children’s Hospital after complications from an appendectomy she’d had there a week earlier. (Courtesy of Sherry Robinson)

Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Six months ago, 7-year-old Kamiya Dufermeau died from complications due to a surgery removing her appendix. Now, the hospital that Kamiya’s mother claims is partly at fault for her daughter’s death is claiming the state law under which she sued violates the U.S. and Alabama Constitutions.

In a court document filed last week, local pediatric hospital Children’s of Alabama denies “the material allegations” of the lawsuit filed by Sherry Robinson in September. They also claim that the Alabama Wrongful Death Statute violates various provisions of the U.S. and Alabama Constitutions. 

In addition to the hospital, Robinson’s lawsuit names Birmingham doctors Colin Martin and Theresa Bolus as defendants.

Circuit Judge Jim Hughey, who is hearing the case, made his first ruling Thursday, denying Dr. Bolus’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In his order, Hughey also directed Robinson’s lawyers to identify the “medical safety rules” Children’s and the two doctors should have followed in a case like Kamiya’s.

The hospital’s newly-filed response says the state law under which Robinson has sued violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “excessive fines and bail,” the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause and Article 1, Section 15 of the Alabama Constitution. 

Kamiya Dufermeau became sick in mid-April and was diagnosed with appendicitis. After more conservative, nonsurgical interventions did not improve her condition, Dr. Colin Martin, who is affiliated with Children’s of Alabama, performed a laparoscopic appendectomy on her.

About a week later, Kamiya still felt lethargic, tired and weak. On May 4, Kamiya’s mother brought her daughter to Dr. Theresa Bolus, a physician at Midtown Pediatrics, a facility run by Children’s of Alabama.

Bolus diagnosed the child with pinworms and sent her home. She did not conduct a physical exam, according to Robinson’s suit.

The day after Kamiya’s doctor’s visit, her grandmother called 911, and paramedics arrived to find the 7-year-old without a pulse. She was brought to Children’s of Alabama where doctors “performed four rounds of pediatrics advanced life support,” according to the lawsuit. Their efforts were not successful.

An autopsy conducted by Jefferson County Coroner & Medical Examiner’s Office showed that Kamiya died “because of an undiagnosed and untreated postsurgical bowel complication.”

Children’s of Alabama’s response to the lawsuit comes after both doctors named in the complaint denied responsibility for Kamiya’s death in court filings, making similar claims about the unconstitutionality of Alabama law addressing such cases. 

A teleconference regarding “status and scheduling” in Kamiya’s case is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 9:45 a.m.

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