'Hundreds of mothers' expressing concern over misuse of labour-inducing drug, says lawyer
Lawyers involved in class action lawsuit confirm nurse Nicole Ruest also under criminal investigation
Lawyers representing women involved in a proposed class-action lawsuit against Moncton nurse Nicole Ruest and Horizon Health Network said in court Tuesday that "hundreds of mothers" have now contacted them.
Ruest was fired last March after women at the Moncton Hospital were allegedly administered labour-inducing Oxytocin without their consent. An internal investigation by Horizon Health found two women required urgent C-sections after receiving the hormone.
A proposed class action lawsuit was launched against the Horizon Health Network and Ruest on behalf of women who were allegedly "inappropriately" given the labour-inducing drug at the hospital in April.
John McKiggan of McKiggan Hebert Lawyers, and Mathieu Picard of Fidelis Law are representing the women.
McKiggan said mothers continue to contact their offices about joining the suit.
"Not every mom that underwent an emergency C-section at the hospital is ultimately going to be found to be a class member if this case is certified."
He was in court Tuesday to ask for access to the hospital's records related to its internal investigation.
McKiggan wants to know how many women might have been affected.
Lawyers for Horizon Health argued against the release of the records. Horizon's representatives said it's too soon in the process to disclose that information.
Ruest's lawyer, Brookelyn Kirkham, agreed.
"There is an important interest here from the perspective of Ms. Ruest — there is an ongoing criminal investigation," Kirkham said.
McKiggan responded to that argument later in the hearing.
"I am mindful that Ms. Ruest is facing criminal charges," he said. "I do understand she has a right against self-incrimination … but that has no impact, that's not relevant at all to the hospital's obligations to produce [information]."
Codiac Regional RCMP previously said a person was arrested Nov. 25 in connection with the case, questioned and released with a promise to appear in court in May 2020. However, as the person had not yet been charged, police did not name them.
The class action lawsuit claims Ruest is directly liable to the women for her actions and Horizon is directly liable for its negligence and vicariously liable as Ruest's employer and supervisor for 15 years.
According to the statement of claim, the Moncton Hospital allegedly knew that it had a "suspiciously" high rate of emergency C-sections and instrument-assisted deliveries by forceps or vacuum, but failed to investigate.
It could take as long as a year to determine whether the class action lawsuit will be certified and can move ahead.
Ruest is scheduled to appear in court in relation to the criminal charges in May.
with files from Shane Magee