Justina Pelletier case against Boston Children’s Hospital set to go to trial

Justina Pelletier case against Boston Children's Hospital set to go to trial

BOSTON — After years of delays, a Connecticut family’s case against Boston Children’s Hospital will finally go before a jury.

Justina Pelletier’s family said the hospital violated the then-teen’s civil rights when they forced her into psychiatric care against her parent’s will.

The case highlighted the debate over who should control a child’s treatment: medical professionals or their parents.

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“I just don’t understand how this happened and I just don’t want this to happen again to any other family,” Justina said in 2016.

Four years after she stood outside of the State House with her parents, announcing they were suing Boston Children’s Hospital, Justina Pelletier’s case is set to go to trial on Tuesday.

The family is suing the hospital and four doctors, accusing them of mistreating Justina and violating her civil rights.

“They were really treating me badly, they didn’t really care, and it was awful,” Justina said in 2016.

The conflict began in 2013 when Justina was 14.

Her gastroenterologist who had been treating her for mitochondrial disease moved from Tufts Medical Center to Children’s.

When the team at Children’s checked her medical records, they became concerned that her symptoms -- the stomach problems, slurred speech and issues walking -- were actually psychological and suspected her parents were contributing to them.

When her parents denied that and tried to take her back to Tufts, they were accused of medical child abuse and the state Department of Children and Families took custody of Justina.

She was returned to her parents’ custody after 18 months, after a judge’s order.

After the lawsuit was announced, the hospital issued this statement:

Boston Children’s Hospital welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier. We are committed to the best interests of our patient’s health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care. Out of respect for the patient’s privacy and the ongoing legal process, Boston Children’s is unable to provide further comment about this specific issues of this case at this time.

The Pelletier family is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

We did reach out to Boston Children’s Hospital again on Monday to see if they had any further comment before trial, but they did not respond.