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Mother Of Baby Who Died At Airport To Sue

Attorney: Baby Died Due To Excessive Delay

POSTED: 6:50 pm HST February 12, 2008

UPDATED: 8:01 pm HST February 12, 2008

HONOLULU , Hawaii -- The family of an infant who died last week after arriving on a flight from American Samoa said it plans to sue the federal government.

Luaipou Futi and her newborn baby, Michael Tony Futi, and a traveling nurse, were the first people off a Hawaiian Airlines flight Friday morning. But Futi said an unexplained delay by customs and immigration officials may have cost Michael his life.

"We cannot think of a valid cause, and even if they had a valid cause for holding the mother of the baby, there is no basis for holding the baby or the baby's nurse," said Rick Fried, a Honolulu attorney representing Futi.

Fried said both the baby and the nurse have U.S. passports and said that Futi, who was born in Western Samoa, had a valid visa.

He said Michael, who was born with hole in his heart, was to have surgery at Kapiolani Medical Center. The child's condition didn't require any emergency service, but after the half-hour delay, the baby began having breathing troubles.

Airport officials attempted to give the baby CPR and he was taken to Kaiser hospital in critical condition where he later died.

Fried said Michael's mother doesn't fault the hospitals or Hawaiian airlines, but said she just wants answers about the delay as she deals with her grief.

"She felt very happy from the minute she got on that plane because she knew her baby was coming to Hawaii," said Fried. "If they had let them come immediately, her baby would have still been here."

Customs and border protection told KITV Saturday that the child had trouble breathing while being processed though the immigration checkpoint but there had been no delays. An autopsy on Micheal is pending.