HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS - Liability (malpractice) - Negligence - Causation - Doctors

Law360 Canada (August 11, 2022, 5:40 AM EDT) -- Appeal by the plaintiffs from the dismissal of their medical negligence action. The plaintiff SF was born on June 3, 2007. She suffered acute near total oxygen deprivation for about 25 to 30 minutes before her birth. The oxygen deprivation led to severe brain damage and damage to other vital organs, leaving SF with multiple devastating, permanent disabilities. SF, her parents, and her two brothers sued Fellows, an obstetrician, alleging that he was negligent during SF’s delivery. The evidence at trial focused primarily on the 26 minutes between Fellows’ arrival in the delivery room and SF’s delivery. The plaintiffs alleged that Fellows fell below the applicable standard of care in several respects. The trial judge dismissed the action. She found that the plaintiffs failed to establish any breach of the applicable standard of care by Fellows. She also found no causal link between any of Fellows’ actions and SF’s injuries. The trial judge rejected the argument that Fellows failed to obtain the required informed consent before proceeding with a vaginal delivery using forceps. Although the judge found no liability, she proceeded to consider damages. Her damages assessment largely adopted the position advanced by the plaintiffs. On appeal, the plaintiffs took the position that the reasons were legally inadequate in that they did not permit meaningful appellate review. The plaintiffs took the position that this Court was not the appropriate forum in which to examine the complicated and conflicting evidence and engage in the extensive fact-finding and credibility assessments necessary to resolve the many contested issues. The plaintiffs therefore submitted that the interests of justice required a new trial on liability. The defendant Fellows took the position that the bases upon which the trial judge decided the material issues were clear when the reasons were read in the context of the evidence and the detailed written and oral submissions made at trial. Alternatively, Fellows submitted that, if the appeal was allowed and a new trial ordered, the new trial should be on all issues, including damage-related issues....
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