It is extremely rare for a judge in Ontario to overrule the decision of a jury.
However, that is precisely what happened in the recent case of Salter v. Hirst. Recently, the Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s decision and set out strict requirements for proving causation in medical negligence cases.
In the Salter case, George Salter came to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. Over the course of 3 days in hospital, Salter began vomiting and passing blood. Finally, he began to lose feeling in his lower extremities. Dr. Jason Hirst was the doctor responsible for Salter’s care in hospital. After three days in hospital, Dr. Hirst had Salter transferred to another hospital for more investigation. At the second hospital, Salter underwent emergency surgery that left his legs paralyzed.
Salter sued Dr. Hirst for negligence. He alleged that Dr. Hirst’s failure to transfer him sooner was negligent and that, if he had been transferred sooner, he would have recovered the use of his legs.
After a long trial, the jury found that Dr. Jason Hirst was negligent for failing to transfer George Salter sooner as Salter alleged. The jury also found that Dr. Hirst’s negligence caused Hirst’s paralysis.
Dr. Hirst asked the trial judge to overrule the jury’s decision. Continue reading