A B.C. Supreme Court has awarded Jeffrey Baglot (“Baglot”), now 33 years old, $888,000 in damages in his lawsuit against a doctor who prescribed him with medication that has left him “totally disabled”.
Baglot was admitted to Abbotsford Regional Hospital for stomach pain related to his Crohn’s disease on July 22, 2011.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive tract, which often affects the small intestine and colon. Symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, rectal bleeding, and weight loss are often associated with Crohn’s disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure. However, through the use of drugs, nutrition therapy, lifestyle changes, and surgery, symptoms can be reduced.
Dr. Fourie, the doctor primarily responsible for his treatment at hospital, prescribed him ketorolac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used as a short-term pain reliever, also known as Toradol. Information available online advises that patients are not to take ketorolac if they have pre-existing stomach or intestinal issues.
After Baglot began taking ketorolac he started “spiraling down” and was even unable to walk. It was determined that he developed an ulcer at the beginning of his small intestine, which ultimately ruptured and required surgical repair. There was no evidence of a perforated ulcer or abscess on his CT scan on July 29, 2011.
On August 1, 2011, at Baglot’s request, he was transferred to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster , where doctors found that he had a perforated ulcer on his small intestine. He underwent surgery and then started to bleed internally. He was transferred to the intensive care unit, required multiple blood transfusions and was in and out of consciousness. Balgot testified that he thought he was going to die.
It was later concluded that Baglot’s ulcer was caused by the ketorolac.
Baglot was finally discharged from hospital 53 days after he was originally admitted to Abbotsford Regional.
WHAT WAS BAGLOT CLAIMING AT TRIAL?
Baglot testified in court that as a result of the prescribing error his life has changed entirely. He claimed that he suffers from “debilitating pain” and depends on his mother to help him with his activities of daily living. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, chronic pain, increased fatigue and an exacerbation of his health problems. He continues to take prescribed opioids to cope with his pain and suffers from withdrawal symptoms since his dosage has been lowered.
Before the trial began, Dr. Fourie admitted that she made the prescription error. She also accepted that she owed Baglot a duty of care and failed him as his doctor. The central issue before the court was whether Dr. Fourie was responsible for Baglot’s lasting injuries.
Justice Diane MacDonald gave her ruling and stated:
Today Mr. Baglot is totally disabled, homebound and isolated. Without the prescribing error, I find that it is more likely than not that Mr. Baglot would have continued to have Crohn’s disease but that he would have worked and been a contributing member of society.
He is not the same man he was before his hospitalizations. …
He is largely in pain, dependent on opioids, depressed and struggles to keep on weight. …
He has lost friends, is isolated, has problems managing his time, and cannot deal with change.
WHAT WAS BAGLOT AWARDED BY THE COURT?
Justice MacDonald was satisfied that Dr. Fourie was responsible for all of Baglot’s injuries and emotional trauma, with the exception of his pre-existing Crohn’s disease.
Justice MacDonald awarded Baglot a total of $888,000 in damages, in addition to his costs and disbursements. This award was broken down as follows:
- $146,000 for non-pecuniary damages (damages not readily quantified and usually referred to as compensation for pain and suffering);
- $63,000 for past wage loss;
- $440,000 for loss of future earning capacity;
- $54,000 in trust for his mother; and
- $185,000 for costs of future care.
In determining Mr. Baglot’s non-pecuniary damages, Justice MacDonald considered the following factors that were set out in the case of Stapley v. Hejslet, such as:
- age of the plaintiff;
- nature of the injury;
- severity and duration of pain;
- emotional suffering;
- loss or impairment of life;
- impairment of family, marital and social relationships;
- impairment of physical and mental abilities;
- loss of lifestyle; and
- the plaintiff’s stoicism.
Baglot’s counsel argued that he should be awarded non-pecuniary damages in the range of $265,000, whereas Dr. Fourie’s counsel argued that damages in the range of $40,000 to $60,000 should be considered.
Based upon the testimony at trial, Justice MacDonald found that the following were consequences of his injury:
- he was unable to continue his athletic pursuits;
- he lives with chronic pain and psychological issues;
- his relationships have been negatively affected by the injury;
- he is in constant pain, housebound, and isolated;
- he cannot return to work; and
- he is not the same man that he was prior to the hospitalization.
Justice MacDonald concluded that an appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages was $265,000 given the circumstances. This figure was reduced by 30% to reflect the “trajectory of Mr. Baglot’s degenerative condition”; by 10% to reflect Baglot’s failure to mitigate; and by 5% to reflect the affects of the intervening 2017 motor vehicle accident which aggravates his arthritis and causes increased headaches. Therefore, the final figure for non-pecuniary damages awarded was $146,000.
At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, we represent individuals who suffer from all types of serious personal injuries. If you or a loved one have sustained an injury and would like more information about your legal options, we can help. For a free initial consultation with one of Calgary’s award winning personal injury lawyers, please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 today.