McFarlane v. MacDonald, (2015) 357 N.S.R.(2d) 88 (SC)

Judge:Hood, J.
Court:Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
Case Date:February 12, 2015
Jurisdiction:Nova Scotia
Citations:(2015), 357 N.S.R.(2d) 88 (SC);2015 NSSC 107
 
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McFarlane v. MacDonald (2015), 357 N.S.R.(2d) 88 (SC);

    1127 A.P.R. 88

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Temp. Cite: [2015] N.S.R.(2d) TBEd. AP.035

William Bruce McFarlane (plaintiff) v. Doctor Carla MacDonald (defendant)

(Hfx. No. 408997; 2015 NSSC 107)

Indexed As: McFarlane v. MacDonald

Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Hood, J.

February 19, 2015.

Summary:

The plaintiff sued the defendant, a general practitioner, alleging that her actions caused the death of his wife, who committed suicide by drug overdose. The defendant sought summary judgment on evidence. The plaintiff had provided no expert evidence.

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Evidence - Topic 7003.2

Opinion evidence - Expert evidence - General - When expert evidence required - [See Practice - Topic 5719 ].

Medicine - Topic 4257

Liability of practitioners - Negligence or fault - Evidence and burden of proof - [See Practice - Topic 5719 ].

Practice - Topic 5702

Judgments and orders - Summary judgments - Jurisdiction or when available or when appropriate - [See Practice - Topic 5719 ].

Practice - Topic 5710

Judgments and orders - Summary judgments - Evidence - [See Practice - Topic 5719 ].

Practice - Topic 5719

Judgments and orders - Summary judgments - To dismiss action - The plaintiff's wife (Ms. Goodwin) attempted suicide on September 27, 2011 - She spent three weeks in hospital and was discharged on October 21 - She saw her general practitioner, Dr. MacDonald, on October 25, November 1, and November 16, 2011 - On November 16, Dr. MacDonald prescribed an increased dosage of fluoxetine (Prozac) - On November 27, 2011, Ms. Goodwin committed suicide by drug overdose - The plaintiff sued Dr. MacDonald alleging that her actions caused his wife's death - Dr. MacDonald sought summary judgment on evidence - The plaintiff provided no expert evidence - The Nova Scotia Supreme Court granted summary judgment - Expert evidence was required in medical malpractice cases, except where the practice or procedure was "fraught with obvious risks" - Prescribing medications to a patient with mental health issues who had a history of overdosing on medications was not a practice fraught with obvious risks - The court stated that "A trier of fact would not know how general practitioners should treat patients with mental health issues and would not be able, without expert evidence, to determine if Dr. MacDonald breached that standard. Nor would a trier of fact be able to determine the link between Dr. MacDonald's prescribing Prozac at an increased dosage on November 16th and the decision of Ms. Goodwin to take an overdose of all her medications on November 27th. Nor would a trier of fact be able to link the particular drugs prescribed by Dr. MacDonald, versus the drugs prescribed by Dr. Tulipan, [a psychiatrist], to the death of Karen Goodwin" - The claim did not have a real chance of success.

Cases Noticed:

Hercules Management Ltd. et al. v. Ernst & Young et al., [1997] 2 S.C.R. 165; 211 N.R. 352; 115 Man.R.(2d) 241; 139 W.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 18].

Guarantee Co. of North America v. Gordon Capital Corp., [1999] 3 S.C.R. 423; 247 N.R. 97; 126 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 18].

United Gulf Developments Ltd. et al. v. Iskandar et al. (2004), 222 N.S.R.(2d) 137; 701 A.P.R. 137; 2004 NSCA 35, refd to. [para. 18].

Cragg v. Eisener, [2012] N.S.R.(2d) Uned. 234; 2012 NSCA 101, refd to. [para. 19].

Hryniak v. Mauldin (2014), 453 N.R. 51; 314 O.A.C. 1; 2014 SCC 7, refd to. [para. 20].

Masontech Inc. v. Aaffinity Contracting and Environmental Ltd. (2014), 344 N.S.R.(2d) 292; 1089 A.P.R. 292; 2014 NSSC 164, refd to. [para. 22].

Diler v. Heath, [2012] O.T.C. Uned. 3017; 2012 ONSC 3017, refd to. [para. 28].

R. v. Mohan, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 9; 166 N.R. 245; 71 O.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 31].

R. v. Abbey, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 24; 43 N.R. 30, refd to. [para. 33].

Neuzen v. Korn, [1995] 3 S.C.R. 674; 188 N.R. 161; 64 B.C.A.C. 241; 105 W.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 36].

Anderson v. Chasney, [1949] 4 D.L.R. 71 (Man. C.A.), refd to. [para. 41].

Girard v. General Hospital of Port Arthur (1996), 50 C.P.C.(3d) 39 (Ont. Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 41].

David et al. v. Credit Valley Hospital et al., [2008] O.T.C. Uned. Q17 (Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 41].

MacNeil v. Bethune et al. (2006), 241 N.S.R.(2d) 1; 767 A.P.R. 1; 2006 NSCA 21, refd to. [para. 44].

Cherny v. Glaxo Smith Kline Inc. (2009), 279 N.S.R.(2d) 192; 887 A.P.R. 192; 2009 NSCA 68, refd to. [para. 45].

Chan et al. v. White et al.(2014), 352 N.S.R.(2d) 204; 1112 A.P.R. 204; 2014 NSSC 383, refd to. [para. 46].

Robert v. Brooks (2014), 343 N.S.R.(2d) 28; 1084 A.P.R. 28; 2014 NSSC 49, refd to. [para. 47].

Statutes Noticed:

Civil Procedure Rules (N.S.), rule 13.04 [para. 17].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Fleming's The Law of Torts, p. 110 [para. 37].

Counsel:

William B. McFarlane, for himself;

Brian W. Downie, Q.C., and Jillian Strugnell, for the defendant.

This motion was heard on February 12, 2015, at Halifax, N.S., before Hood, J., of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, who delivered the following decision orally on February 19, 2015, and in writing on April 9, 2015.

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