Dr. Gabrielle Horne wants Stephen McNeil to stop the Nova Scotia Health Authority from appealing the verdict in her lawsuit involving workplace bullying and her research, but the premier's spokesman says he won't get involved.

Horne argues the premier is the "ultimate steward of taxpayers' dollars" and could tell the health authority to stop its legal battle, and instead address the underlying problems that led a jury to find in her favour.

A jury awarded Horne $1.4 million in June after a 14-year battle with the health authority. Her lawyer has called it the largest award ever in Canada for damages to reputation and career.

'Hospital has not taken responsibility'

Horne, a cardiac researcher, had a high-profile research grant in 2002. She claimed colleagues tried to add their names to her research papers. When she refused, she said her privileges at the QEII Health Sciences Centre were changed so she couldn't do her research anymore.

Last week, she said she sent an email to health authority CEO Janet Knox and the premier outlining her current situation and how "the hospital has not taken responsibility in any way for what's happened."

"If the Nova Scotia Health Authority cannot take responsibility for what's happened here then I can only hope the premier would want to get involved because not taking responsibility is an issue of hospital culture and it affects everybody," she said.

David Jackson, a spokesman for the premier, said in an email Tuesday night that McNeil can't intervene because of "the ongoing legal process."

Health authority appeal

The Nova Scotia Health Authority launched an appeal earlier this month. In court documents, the health authority said it wants a new trial and wants costs awarded to it for both the appeal and trial.

Alternatively, it wants damages for loss of reputation struck out and an "appropriate reward" substituted.

The health authority is appealing the verdict and the amount of the award on a number of legal grounds, including:

  • The judge failed to properly instruct the jury on legal principles regarding bad faith and malice.
  • Certain claims for damages by Horne are unsupportable by law.
  • Horne should not have been able to pursue a monetary claim for damages for loss of reputation.
  • The judge failed to properly instruct the jury on how to value damages for loss of reputation.

Meeting with MLA

Horne said her MLA, Lena Diab, has offered to meet with her and that the two plan to speak Friday. 

"I don't know how one individual can deal with a health authority with a $2-billion budget that has — what seems to me —  a bottomless pit of money to spend on lawyers," said Horne.

"I've tried my absolute best to solve this problem through the proper channels. It's taken 14 years to get this to court and an absolutely shocking amount of money and the message is that I'm getting from the hospital is that they want to continue to behave as though that verdict never happened."