Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba's Highest Court Rules Family of Man Who Died during ER Wait Can Sue

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba's Highest Court Rules Family of Man Who Died during ER Wait Can Sue

Article excerpt

Family of man who died during ER wait can sue

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WINNIPEG - Manitoba's highest court has ruled that the family of a man who died during a 34-hour hospital emergency room wait can sue the health authority for a breach of charter and privacy rights.

Lower courts struck out the heart of the lawsuit filed by the family of Brian Sinclair, ruling his loved ones couldn't sue because those rights died with him in 2008. Lawyers for Sinclair's family argued it was absurd that the family of a man who died because he didn't receive proper care couldn't sue because he was dead.

After eight months of deliberations, the Manitoba Court of Appeal said that the lawsuit should be allowed to proceed.

Vilko Zbogar, one of the family's lawyers, said the ruling has important implications for the evolution of charter law, as well as the family's pursuit of justice.

"This is absolutely a landmark ruling on charter interpretation and on privacy rights," he said.

"It's important to the family to have vindication for Brian Sinclair's death and it's very important to them to hold the institutions who were responsible accountable for their conduct. They made racist assumptions about why Brian Sinclair was there sitting in his wheelchair throwing up during a 34-hour period and that's what led to his death."

The appeal court also restored the family's right to sue the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority for disclosing private health information about Sinclair after his death.

Robert Sinclair, Brian Sinclair's cousin, said the family won't stop trying to hold health authorities to account "for their shameful conduct both before and after his death."

"We are grateful that the courts will now allow us to do that," he said in a statement.

The 45-year-old double amputee died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter while waiting for care at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. …

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