Shobridge v. Thomas et al., (1999) 16 B.C.T.C. 161 (SC)

Judge:Kirkpatrick, J.
Court:Supreme Court of British Columbia
Case Date:July 23, 1999
Jurisdiction:British Columbia
Citations:(1999), 16 B.C.T.C. 161 (SC)
 
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Shobridge v. Thomas (1999), 16 B.C.T.C. 161 (SC)

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Temp. Cite: [1999] B.C.T.C. TBEd. AU.080

Shannon Colleen Shobridge (plaintiff) v. David M. Thomas, North Shore Health Board, carrying on business as Lions Gate Hospital, Laurie Kennedy, Evelyn Black and Sheila Wetzlmayr (defendants)

(C970780)

Indexed As: Shobridge v. Thomas et al.

British Columbia Supreme Court

Vancouver

Kirkpatrick, J.

July 23 and October 5, 1999.

Summary:

The now 28 year old female plaintiff underwent surgery in 1995. An abdominal roll used to pack the bowel during surgery was left inside her body, resulting in post-operative infection. The abdominal roll was not discovered until surgery almost three months later. The doctor who performed the operation did not inform the plaintiff for two months and then only because a superior at the hospital ordered him to do so. Otherwise, the doctor had no intention of disclosing the incident. The plaintiff sued the doctor, the hospital and nurses involved for damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and deceit. The hospital and nurses admitted that the failure to account for the abdominal roll constituted negligence. The doctor who performed the surgery denied liability, sub­mitting that it was the nurses' responsibility to account for instruments and sponges, not his.

The British Columbia Supreme Court held that, in addition to the negligence of the nurses and hospital, the doctor was also negligent. Absent the ability to determine whether the nurses' and hospital's error or the doctor's error was more significant, the court applied s. 1(2) of the Negligence Act and apportioned liability equally between the doctor and the nurses and hospital. The doctor also breached his fiduciary duty to inform his patient of the surgical error in leaving the abdominal roll in the plaintiff's body. That breach resulted in emotional upset, mistrust and depression in the plain­tiff. The doctor's delayed disclosure fell short of actionable deceit. The court awarded $85,000 general damages for nonpecuniary loss, $55,293 for lost past income, $50,000 for loss of future earning capacity, $25,000 aggravated damages and $20,000 punitive damages against the doctor for the nondisclosure. The court subsequently awarded the plaintiff costs on Scale 4, pay­able equally by the doctor and the hospital and nurses. The court exercised its equitable jurisdiction to award pre-judgment interest on the global nonpecuniary damage award (simple interest at that discount rate fixed under s. 56(2) of the Law and Equity Act).

Damage Awards - Topic 204

Injury and death - Psychological injuries - Depression - See paragraphs 103 to 112.

Damage Awards - Topic 453

Injury and death - Special damage awards - Loss of wages - See paragraphs 113 to 120.

Damage Awards - Topic 461

Injury and death - Special damage awards - Cost of future care - See 132 to 134.

Damage Awards - Topic 492

Injury and death - General damage awards - Loss of earning capacity - See para­graphs 121 to 131.

Damage Awards - Topic 634

Torts - Injury to the person - Medical or dental malpractice - See paragraphs 103 to 112.

Damages - Topic 905

Aggravation - General - Aggravated dam­ages - Claim for - See paragraphs 135 to 138.

Damages - Topic 1309.1

Exemplary or punitive damages - Breach of confidence or fiduciary duty - See paragraphs 139 to 144.

Equity - Topic 3653

Fiduciary or confidential relationships - Breach of fiduciary relationship - By doc­tor - See paragraphs 89 to 102.

Evidence - Topic 2401

Special modes of proof - Presumptions - Specific presumptions - Inference from failure to call available evidence - See paragraphs 61 to 65.

Interest - Topic 5011

Interest as damages (prejudgment interest) - General principles - Interest on nonpe­cuniary general damages - See paragraphs 166 to 168.

Medicine - Topic 3048

Relation with patient - Consent to treat­ment - Negligence or fault - Duty of the treating doctor to inform patient - See paragraphs 89 to 102.

Medicine - Topic 4241.2

Liability of practitioners - Negligence or fault - Causation - See paragraphs 89 to 102.

Medicine - Topic 4245

Liability of practitioners - Negligence or fault - Surgical operations by doctors - See paragraphs 74 to 88.

Medicine - Topic 4248

Liability of practitioners - Negligence or fault - Failure to inform or disclose - See paragraphs 89 to 102.

Practice - Topic 7115

Costs - Party and party costs - Special orders - Increase in scale of costs - Diffi­culty and complexity of proceedings - See paragraphs 149 to 165.

Cases Noticed:

Barker v. McQuahe (1964), 49 W.W.R.(N.S.) 685 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 62].

Frandle v. MacKenzie (1990), 51 B.C.L.R.(2d) 190 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 86].

Stamos v. Davies (1985), 52 O.R.(2d) 10 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 99].

Derry v. Peek (1889), 14 App. Cas. 337 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 101].

Bradford Third Equitable Benefit Building Society v. Borders, [1941] 2 All E.R. 205 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 101].

Athey v. Leonati et al. (1997), 203 N.R. 36; 81 B.C.A.C. 243; 132 W.A.C. 243; 140 D.L.R.(4th) 235 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 104].

Muir v. Alberta (1996), 179 A.R. 321; 132 D.L.R.(4th) 695 (Q.B.), refd to. [para. 107].

Day v. Creedon et al., [1997] B.C.T.C. Uned. 718 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 110].

Lowe v. Jenkinson et al. (1995), 45 B.C.A.C. 203; 72 W.A.C. 203; 94 B.C.L.R.(2d) 147 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 117].

Kwei v. Boisclair (1991), 60 B.C.L.R.(2d) 393 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 126].

Brown v. Golaiy, [1986] B.C.W.L.D. 349 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 126].

Melina v. Bartsch (1985), 49 B.C.L.R.(2d) 33 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 132].

Arkestan v. Burgess, [1989] B.C.J. No. 264 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 132].

Huff v. Price (1990), 51 B.C.L.R.(2d) 282 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 135].

Vorvis v. Insurance Corp. of British Col­umbia (1989), 94 N.R. 321; 58 D.L.R.(4th) 193 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 136].

Hill v. Church and Scientology and Man­ning (1995), 184 N.R. 1; 84 O.A.C. 1; 126 D.L.R.(4th) 129 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 139].

Coughlin v. Kuntz (1989), 42 B.C.L.R.(2d) 108 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 141].

McBeth v. Boldt (1998), 112 B.C.A.C. 140; 182 W.A.C. 140; 164 D.L.R.(4th) 248 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 142].

Bradshaw Construction Ltd. v. Bank of Nova Scotia (1991), 54 B.C.L.R.(2d) 309 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 153].

Aikenhead v. Higgs (1992), 65 B.C.L.R.(2d) 340 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 156].

Waterhouse v. Fedor, [1987] B.C.J. No. 1033, refd to. [para. 158].

Forrest v. Gairdner and Co. (No. 2) (1961), 36 W.W.R.(N.S.) 204 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 158].

Louis v. Esslinger (1981), 29 B.C.L.R. 41 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 158].

Beadle et al. v. British Columbia et al., [1997] B.C.T.C. Uned. B37; 51 B.C.L.R.(3d) 1 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 166].

Counsel:

T.R. Berger, Q.C., and E.F. Berger, for the plaintiff;

C.E. Hinkson, Q.C., and K.F. Douglas, for the defendant, David M. Thomas;

J.C. Grauer and L. McKay, for the de­fendants, North Shore Health Board c.o.b. as Lions Gate Hospital, Laurie Kennedy, Evelyn Black and Sheila Wetzlmayr.

This action was heard on June 14-18 and 21-25, 1999, at Vancouver, B.C., before Kirkpatrick, J., of the British Columbia Supreme Court, who delivered the following judgment on July 23, 1999, with supple­mental reasons on costs and prejudgment interest delivered on October 5, 1999.

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