Halifax cardiologist's victory tempered by ongoing legal saga
Wright, of Wright Henry LLP, represented Dr. Gabrielle Horne with co-counsel Danielle Stampley in a recent 33-day judge and jury trial that awarded her a landmark $1.4-million from the Nova Scotia Health Authority for the loss of her reputation and research career.
Wright and his client were back in court in September, where they won a further $553,000 in costs and interest. Horne was ordered to pay $131,000 to the Department of Medicine for claims the court dismissed, he says.
Now Wright has filed an appeal based on what decisions the judge allowed the jury to consider.
At the same time, the Nova Scotia Health Authority has launched a cross-appeal on the jury's award.
Wright tells Information Morning Nova Scotia on CBC Radio the appeal was expected.
“The approach taken by the hospital to try and resolve outstanding issues in litigation seem predicated on the hospital winning an appeal, and they factored that into their approach to these issues,” Wright says.
In the same interview, Horne tells the broadcaster how difficult it has been to continue working at Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax throughout the “traumatic” trial.
“Although colleagues and coworkers are kind and supportive, the individuals I report to are still the same individuals who either made allegations or were very involved in the court case supporting those allegations, so that’s hard for me,” she says, adding she wouldn’t wish the stress of litigation on anyone.
In an interview with the Chronicle Herald, Wright says he wants to see an end to the 14-year legal saga for his client.
“Dr. Horne would like to settle the issue, terminate the legal proceedings and get on with her career and her life. . . and stop spending so much time with lawyers,” he says.
As outlined in Horne v. QEII Health Sciences Centre, 2016 NSSC 169 (CanLII), Horne, who studies aortic aneurysms, was suing for the damage to her career after some of her hospital privileges were withdrawn between 2002 and 2006, effectively leading to the closure of her research program.
The hospital had concerns over patient safety regarding Horne's non-invasive and observational studies, accusations later deemed unfounded.
There was also a claim that she was not collegial when she would not include her supervisor in her research. The hospital said her lack of collegiality was making it difficult for her to work with other doctors and that would potentially endanger patient safety.
In June, a jury agreed the Health Authority had acted wrongly, but her victory in court has been tempered by continued legal wrangling, Wright says.
“Dr. Horne has achieved a tremendous victory, but now, until we get the appeal issues resolved, it’s difficult to move forward,” Wright tells AdvocateDaily.com. “She’s not receiving any of the damages that were ordered to be paid to her and it’s difficult to move forward in terms of trying to resurrect her research career and develop a more positive working relationship.”
Wright adds this is “extremely discouraging” given the magnitude of her success in court, in what was believed to be the highest award for non-pecuniary damages for loss of reputation and career.
“Dr. Horne would like to focus on seeing patients, doing research and making a contribution as a doctor, not a plaintiff.”