TORONTO – A proposed class action lawsuit launched in 2019 by a Canadian against Dr. Lasik was denied by a Quebec court which ruled that the proposed class action lawsuit was mandatory and inappropriate for the circumstances of the case.
Christopher Ouellet, the plaintiff in question, initiated the lawsuit years after experiencing a rare result after Lasik eye surgery in 2015: relentless, burning pain in his eyes.
“It completely ruined my life,” Ouellet told CTV News in 2019. “It destroyed everything.” I lost my job. I’ve lost the things I like to do in life. “
He was diagnosed with corneal neuralgia in 2016, a rare condition in which damaged nerves in the cornea cause severe pain. Often misdiagnosed or dismissed as dry eye, it can have devastating consequences on life.
Although negative results from Lasik eye surgery are extremely rare and occur in less than one percent of patients according to Lasik MD, they have been reported.
Lasik MD added corneal neuralgia risk to some informed consent following a 2018 CTV News / W5 investigation examining patients who had experienced chronic pain after eye surgery.
In legal acts, Ouellet claimed that Dr. Lasik had not previously properly informed him of the risks of the surgery and that his surgeon had not discussed the consent form with him. He sought compensation for those suffering from chronic pain as a result of a Lasik operation performed between 2009 and 2018.
A class action lawsuit is a specific type of lawsuit in which a group of people represented by one or some members of that group sues another party with the understanding that the group of people is similarly affected.
The Quebec Supreme Court, in its ruling last November, wrote that her dismissal was due to two main reasons: the lawsuit was not filed within the applicable three-year time limit, and the court found the situation was inappropriate for a class action lawsuit.
Her first point was that Ouellet had had postoperative pain since 2015 and the three year period was due to start. The class action lawyer argued that since Ouellet was diagnosed in 2016, this should serve as the start date for the three-year filing deadline, but the court disagreed.
“From Mr. Ouellet’s own application, it appears that the underlying problem is post-operative chronic pain. Corneal neuralgia is just a name for it, ”the verdict said.
Regarding the case appropriate for a class action lawsuit, the decision noted that there was no common question and noted that one of the reasons it would be difficult to apply this case more broadly was because it was depends on whether Ouellet has not been properly informed of the risks.
To use this in a class action lawsuit, the court would have to review the conversations between each patient and their Lasik surgeons across the country and “up to 66 ophthalmologists performed laser surgery on Lasik’s behalf” in the specified time period.
In terms of written informed consent and information alone, the decision indicated that the defense said up to 22 different patient consent forms were issued, depending on their medical history.
“Therefore, it is clear that the adequacy of the information will be different for each patient, regardless of the facts in the written materials or information,” the decision said.
They also said that Ouellet’s consent increased the possibility of chronic pain.
The court added that if Ouellet’s specific surgeon did not verbally report to Ouellet the risk of chronic pain after surgery, as he claims, “a negative answer to the question will not advance the debate in a way that makes a class action recourse appropriate. “
Although others joined Ouellet’s trial after the announcement, and many shared their experiences with debilitating eye pain after Ouellet and other Canadians spoke, the court found in its ruling that “the consent forms contain a similar clause, exclusive jurisdiction reports to the courts of the province where the operation was carried out. “The actual number of people included in the Quebec lawsuit is a smaller cohort than originally thought.
While around 1,197 people responded to a website created by Ouellet and his attorney, of those only around 10 people with corneal neuralgia are permanent residents of Quebec, and it is unknown if they were previously informed about the risks of the surgery.
“The question of the number of potential class members who are eligible within the applicable deadlines is also an element that can influence whether there is a viable group. Except in exceptional circumstances, a group cannot be indefinite, ”said the court.
The decision said that Ouellet’s case could have grounds for a personal lawsuit if he hadn’t started his lawsuit too late.
In a statement to CTV News regarding the court’s decision, Dr. Lasik stated that complications from Lasik are rare and that “these postoperative complications are treatable in the vast majority of cases”.
“Our rigorous approach and established processes ensure that every patient is fully informed about the potential risks, benefits, and side effects, including the very rare risk of chronic pain, a condition that is not unique to eye surgery, prior to any procedure. Although the risks associated with LASIK are extremely small, it is still very unfortunate when a rare complication occurs, ”said Dr. Mark Cohen, co-founder and national medical director of Lasik MD, in the statement.