Canada's top court to hear case of Montreal naturopath found guilty of manslaughter

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case of a Montreal naturopath found guilty of manslaugther in the death of her 84-year-old patient who died shortly after being injected with magnesium.

Mitra Javanmardi's 84-year-old patient died shortly after being injected with magnesium in 2008

Mitra Javanmardi was acquitted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence in 2015, but the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned acquittal this spring.

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case of a Montreal naturopath found guilty of manslaugther in the death of her 84-year-old patient who died shortly after being injected with magnesium.

Mitra Javanmardi was found not guilty in 2015 of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence by a Quebec court judge in the death of Roger Matern.

That acquittal was overturned in May 2018 by the Quebec Court of Appeal. The court ordered her to undergo a new trial on a second charge of criminal negligence causing death.

Matern was suffering from breathing problems because of fluid in his lungs following heart surgery when he sought treatment from Javanmardi on June 12, 2008.

Matern felt ill about 15 minutes after receiving the injection and died in hospital the next day.

Javanmardi trained as a naturopath in Portland, Ore., and practised for 30 years. She had treated between 4,000 and 5,000 patients at her Westmount, Que., clinic.

Naturopaths in Quebec are not legally allowed to administer treatments intravenously. Javanmardi was sanctioned by the province's college of physicians before the case even made it to court.

The Quebec court judge who first heard the case recognized that, as a naturopath, Javanmardi was not supposed to administer intravenous drugs, but found she had received appropriate training and expertise in the United States.

The Crown appealed the ruling and Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Claude Gagnon, writing on on behalf of a panel of three justices, said the lower court erred in its legal interpretation of what is required to get an involuntary manslaughter conviction. 

Gagnon said "exceptional circumstances allow [the court] to substitute the acquittal with a guilty verdict."