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Bereft of tiny corpse,couple awarded $2M

Posted by BY JOHN MARZULLI, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER on 2005/01/10 | Views: 657 |

Bereft of tiny corpse,couple awarded $2M


A Nigerian couple won a $2 million jury verdict after suing a Brooklyn hospital they say threw away the body of their premature infant, depriving them of a proper tribal burial, the Daily News has learned.

A Nigerian couple won a $2 million jury verdict after suing a Brooklyn hospital they say threw away the body of their premature infant, depriving them of a proper tribal burial, the Daily News has learned.

Patrick Emeagwali, a tribal chief in his homeland, and his wife, Emilian, contend they told a nurse and bereavement counselor at Brooklyn Hospital Center of their desire to bury the tiny corpse.

Emilian Emeagwali delivered a baby girl just 22 weeks into her pregnancy in 1996. The child weighed 370 grams - less than a pound. She said the girl was alive briefly, but hospital records show the infant was stillborn.

The hospital argued its policy dictates that fetuses weighing under 500 grams be sent to the pathology lab before disposal. The nurse and counselor did not recall the Emeagwalis' request to bury the baby.

"The hospital kept referring to the baby as a 'product of conception,' but to the Emeagwalis it was their baby girl," said the couple's lawyer, Charles Rappaport.

Patrick Emeagwali, a math instructor at the City University of New York, is also a chief of the Ibo tribe in his homeland.

He claimed the hospital's action caused him to lose status with his tribe because he could not provide for a Catholic burial here and interment of clippings of his daughter's hair and fingernails in Nigeria.

"Under their beliefs, a soul wanders forever without a burial in a tribal burial ground," Rappaport said.

Emilian Emeagwali, a physical therapist, suffered nightmares and feelings of guilt and gained 50 pounds after the tragedy.

A lawyer for the hospital declined to comment on the verdict, which was reached after a trial in November. Court records show the hospital has filed a motion to set aside or reduce the jury's award.

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Comments (3)

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown