Horizon Health argues against admission of new information in mothers’ class-action lawsuit

A hearing began Monday to examine the admissibility of new information in a proposed class action lawsuit against Horizon Health Network and a former obstetrician.

Judge Denise LeBlanc heard arguments from plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys related to new information brought during a hearing to certify the lawsuit in October.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of mothers who believe they were improperly administered oxytocin. It is alleged that former nurse Nicole Ruest may have administered the contraceptive drug to “hundreds” of pregnant women at Moncton Hospital without their consent.

Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract and can be dangerous to the health of the fetus as it can disrupt oxygen supply and affect the fetal heart rate.

Certification hearing delayed

Both Ruest and Horizon are named as defendants in the proposed class action lawsuit.

The certificate hearing to determine whether the lawsuit could proceed as a class action lawsuit began in late October but was postponed on the second day after new information was provided by plaintiffs’ attorneys.

This information is subject to a court-imposed prohibition of publication until LeBlanc has made a decision on the admissibility of the new information.

Attorney John McKiggin, who represents the mothers, argued that the new information should be incorporated and taken into account if the hearing on the attestation continues.

David Hashey, who represents the Horizon Health Network, argued that the information should not be allowed in its entirety.

Andrew Faith and Brookelyn Kirkham, attorneys at Ruest, advised the court that the information did not qualify for admissibility and was not relevant to certification.

The company representing the women in the proposed lawsuit said after the initial hearing that more than 300 women contacted them after seeing media coverage.

Fidelis Law’s attorney Mathieu Picard, who represents the mothers at McKiggan, said in an interview that the firm has been in contact with more potential students in recent months.

“As a trial attorney, you have to be patient, and unfortunately our proposed plaintiffs are in the same system,” he said. “It’s not a fast system, it is not a fast system, but the goal is to get a just and fair solution in the end and that takes time.”

The hearing on the certification is intended to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a class action is preferable to a legal dispute. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs must demonstrate that doing so will allow access to justice and the judicial economy and could lead to behavioral changes.

At the beginning of the certification hearing, the court heard details from affidavits from seven women during the certification hearing who claimed they had been given oxytocin without their consent or knowledge.

Horizon versus Certification

The complaint states that the women believe that between September 2010 and March 2019, as a result of Ruest’s actions, they received oxytocin and suffered harm as a result. During this period, Ruest worked in the labor and delivery unit, according to Horizon’s defense statement.

Horizon and Ruest’s lawyers have both filed defense statements.

The defendants are calling for a decision against the certification, arguing that the case does not meet the standards to proceed as a class action lawsuit.

A decision on the admissibility of the new information is expected early next year.

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