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Mar 22, 2018

Dr. Gabrielle Horne Receives Largest Ever Damages Award in Canada for Loss of Reputation in a Recent Decision of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal

After a recent decision of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Dr. Gabrielle Horne, represented by Michael Wright, Danielle Stampley and Craig Garson, remains the recipient of the largest ever damages award in Canada for loss of reputation and career.

As the Court of Appeal noted in its decision, in 1998 Dr. Horne was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine and an Attending Physician at what is now the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Within a few years, Dr. Horne won a Teacher of the Year Award, a Research Excellence Award and had hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants, three ground-breaking studies underway and a lab that employed two staff and several graduate students. In 2001 she won a Clinical Scholar Award that allowed her to spend 70 percent of her time on research. However, Dr. Horne's research in the field of cardiology was effectively shut down in 2002 as a result of complaints filed by a male colleague who was a Director of the Heart Function Clinic, but not part of the research . Dr. Horne's hospital privileges were varied, which effectively shut down her ability to access her patients and conduct research. The then Capital District Health Authority said at the time it had concerns about Horne's collegiality and patient safety. The hospital's own board of directors eventually decided those concerns were not sufficient to justify removing her privileges and her privileges were restored, but it took Dr. Horne four years and $167,000 in legal fees to achieve that result.

In 2016 a seven-member civil jury decided that the Nova Scotia Health Authority acted in bad faith when it revoked her privileges and was solely responsible for what happened. Michael was counsel to Dr. Horne at trial.

On February 27, 2018, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal issued its decision, a copy of which can be found here. The Court held that it was "satisfied that Capital Health's bad faith caused significant and lasting harm to Dr. Horne's reputation." While there was a reduction in the head of damages for loss of reputation to $800,000, this award remains the highest ever award for loss of reputation in Canada.

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