Lawyer says hundreds concerned by N.B. class-action involving induced labour

MONCTON, N.B.—A lawyer representing women in a proposed class-action lawsuit against New Brunswick’s largest health authority and an obstetrics nurse says hundreds of concerned women have contacted him.

The lawsuit, which has not been tested in court, alleges nurse Nicole Ruest improperly gave patients the labour-inducing drug oxytocin, leading to an unusually high number of emergency C-sections and instrument-assisted deliveries at the Moncton Hospital.

“We have been contacted by hundreds of mothers who have expressed concerns, but as I indicated to the court, not every mother who underwent an emergency C-section at the Moncton Hospital will be a class member,” John McKiggan, a Halifax-based medical malpractice lawyer, said. “It remains to be seen what the actual class size is.”

McKiggan was in court in Moncton on Tuesday, seeking an order to obtain information from the hospital. “There is specific information we believe the hospital has that is relevant to the issues that the court will need to deal with on certification,” he said.

The judge is expected to rule on that request before the end of February.

Ruest could not be reached Wednesday for comment, but in a statement of defence filed with the court, her lawyers reject the allegation that she was negligent.

“She did not breach any duty of care owed to the plaintiff or to any proposed class member, nor did she fall below the applicable standard of care,” the document reads. “At all material times, Ms. Ruest provided nursing care that met or exceeded the applicable standard of care.”

The hospital, part of the Horizon Health Network, also filed a statement of defence last May.

“The defendant hospital admits that its physicians were becoming concerned over the increasing number of emergency caesarean sections and were attempting to determine the reason for the increase in the number of emergency caesarean sections,” the statement reads. But it denies all other allegations.

The hospital says that Ruest was terminated as an obstetrical nurse.

The RCMP said in November that one person was arrested and questioned about the case and is to appear in court in May.

McKiggan said a hearing to determine whether the class action lawsuit goes ahead will likely be held in December or early in 2021.

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