Report: New Mexico university settles child death lawsuit

March 10, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has agreed to pay $38 million to settle part of a lawsuit alleging some pediatric cancer patients with leukemia received substandard care at the university’s hospital, a newspaper said.

The settlement would bring a partial end to a lawsuit on behalf of 250 children over practices from 1977 to 1997 where young patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia were given diluted, outdated drug treatments and faced a higher mortality rate than the national average, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The settlement offer was filed in court last week and is awaiting a judge’s approval. The court is expected to decide how the money would be administered.

University officials reported the heirs of no more than 89 children who died could be eligible to receive partial compensation from the settlement, attorney Jacob Vigil said. A trial is scheduled in August for the children who survived their treatment.

“As New Mexico’s only Children’s Hospital, we take our commitment to treating our state’s most vulnerable patients with the highest level of care and compassion very seriously. We hope our decision to enter into a partial settlement in this case helps bring some closure to this matter. Our thoughts are with these families,” hospital spokesman Mark Rudi said in a statement.

The university has settled more than 90 cases in the past 20 years related to substandard care for childhood cancer patients for about $52 million, the newspaper reported.