Canada's top court will not hear an appeal by an Alberta chiropractor who was ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in damages to a patient who he severely injured.
The Supreme Court of Canada announced Thursday that it will not entertain the appeal by Dr. Murray Schneider of Fort Saskatchewan, who a lower court ruled had caused a rare but debilitating nerve condition in a man he treated.
As is its practice, the Supreme Court did not give reasons for its decision.
The case dates back to February 2002, when apprentice electrician Eric Malinowski hurt his back on the job while hauling heavy cables at Shell's Scotford Upgrader, an oilsands facility about 40 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
Malinowski was taken to Schneider for treatment the next day and the day after that. During both visits, Schneider performed chiropractic adjustments.
Two days later, Malinowski awoke with numbness in his lower buttocks and saddle area and a lack of sensation in his legs. He was taken to hospital and had emergency surgery, but it did not cure the problem, and according to the trial ruling he has suffered ever since from pain, occasional incontinence, back spasms, sexual dysfunction and weakness in his legs.
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Judge Donna Shelley ruled in 2010 that Schneider was negligent and caused Malinowski's condition — an uncommon disorder known as cauda equina syndrome, where the nerve roots below the lower end of the spinal cord become compressed. The chiropractor was found liable for damages of $1.33 million.
Schneider lost his appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal and then petitioned the Supreme Court in June to hear his case.