HomeNews Legal News $500,000 Awarded for Legal Costs in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: Medical Malpractice Lawyers Explain the Significance

May 10, 2023 in News --> Legal News

$500,000 Awarded for Legal Costs in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: Medical Malpractice Lawyers Explain the Significance

Big Win for Plaintiffs Say Medical Malpractice Lawyers As Court Upholds Legal Costs Repayment

A long-running case involving abuse at the Oak Ridge psychiatric facility has finally come to an end. It has taken the 27 victims decades - over 50 years in some cases - to receive compensation ($9 million) for the harm they suffered while at Oak Ridge. But the significance is less in the victory and more in the awards for legal costs, our medical malpractice lawyers in Toronto explain.

That the plaintiffs were awarded over $500,000 for legal costs sets a positive pro-plaintiff precedent for future medical malpractice lawsuits. 

A Brief Background to 17 Years of Abuse at Oak Ride

Between 1966 and 1983, the 28 respondents were admitted involuntarily to the Oak Ridge Division of the Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene. They sued the Ontario government, responsible for managing Oak Ridge, and two doctors.

They claimed damages for assault, battery, breach of fiduciary duty, and intentional infliction of emotional distress in connection to the programs run at the facility. The trial judge found the appellants liable, awarding from about $10,000 to $2 million to the victims. 

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The Ontario Government and Physicians Appeal

The appellants approached the Court of Appeal for Ontario appealing the compensation and costs awarded. The appeal was partly successful, with the court partly reducing the damages awarded and reversing the finding of assault. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeal, putting an end to the case and awarding the 27 victims over $9 million in damages.

It is the subsequent appeal on costs that, our medical malpractice lawyers explain, is significant. The province and the two physicians argued that since they had been partly successful at appeal, the respondents’ claims of cost be reduced from the $516, 553.35 that had been asked as remuneration. 

Learn more:

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  2. 7 Things You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
  3. Here's How Ontario's Hospital Staffing Shortages Threaten Patient Care

Justices Hourigan, Trotter and Zarnett dismissed the appeal, holding “While there was mixed success in this court, the trial judgement remained largely intact.” They noted that the amounts reflected the complex nature of the 71-day trial. 

Acknowledging the uphill task victims and medical malpractice lawyers in Toronto face, the court found “the respondents took reasonable efforts to uphold the judgement against the combined forces of the government of Ontario and the insurers for the two Physicians.”

Though the appeal was partly successful, there was no basis to reduce the costs claimed.

Given the complex nature of medical malpractice lawsuits, the decision goes some way to reducing risks for plaintiffs. It demonstrates that courts accept the resources victims and medical malpractice lawyers need to devote to proving the claim. 

What This Means for You (and Why You Need to Speak to Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Toronto)

There’s no hiding from it–medical malpractice lawsuits can be complex and expensive. Medical exams, discovery, expert witnesses, and the time your medical malpractice lawyers have to invest mean costs can rise rapidly. 

This decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal shows courts are mindful of the resources plaintiffs have to commit to overcome the odds stacked in favour of the medical establishment. 

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