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Parents file suit in death of baby


They say government carelessly detained boy in need of medical care

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

The parents of a baby boy who died here in February sued the federal government yesterday, alleging that Customs and Border Patrol personnel at Honolulu International Airport caused the infant’s death by “carelessly and negligently” delaying his entry into the country.

The suit was filed by Luaiopu and Tony Futi, parents of Michael Tony Futi, the 14-day-old infant who died Feb. 8 after arriving from American Samoa for pre-arranged emergency treatment at Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children.

The suit closely tracked allegations first made against the government shortly after the child’s death by private attorney Rick Fried.

Michael Futi was diagnosed with a heart murmur shortly after birth and medical personnel in American Samoa arranged for his “urgent” treatment at Kapi’olani, the suit said.

Luaiopu Futi, his mother, received an emergency visa waiver from Customs Border Patrol before leaving American Samoa with her child. They were accompanied by a registered nurse, Arizona Veavea, the suit said.

On arrival, they were detained in a locked room at the airport, despite protesting that the child “urgently needed to get to the hospital,” the suit alleged.

The baby went into medical distress while the adults and another passenger in the detention area were pounding on the door and “screaming desperately for help,” the suit said.

When emergency medical personnel arrived, the baby was taken to Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

James Kosciuk, spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Honolulu, could not be reached for comment on the suit yesterday. He has previously declined to discuss the incident, citing potential litigation.