Nova Scotia

Dr. Gabrielle Horne 'delighted' with $1.4M win against Nova Scotia Health Authority

A Halifax cardiology researcher who on Friday won a landmark $1.4-million lawsuit against the Nova Scotia Health Authority says she's "delighted" with the jury's decision in her case.

Doctor said not yet clear whether money awarded sufficient to continue with research

A Halifax cardiology researcher who on Friday won a landmark $1.4-million lawsuit against the Nova Scotia Health Authority says she's "delighted" with the jury's decision in her case. 

Dr. Gabrielle Horne was a promising, high-profile researcher in Halifax, working to find out why some patients suffer heart failure. 

Her research was effectively shut down in 2002 when she and her colleagues had a dispute over who the research should be attributed to. 

"I'm absolutely delighted that the jury found the hospital acted in bad faith in their treatment of me over the last 14 years and I think the damages award really does reflect the gravity of what was done to me personally," Horne told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Monday.

Gabrielle Horne lost four years of research while waiting for her clinical privileges to be restored. (Dalhousie University)

Future of Horne's research up in the air

In the end, it's not clear whether the $1.4 million the Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury awarded to Horne following a 33-day trial — plus $167,460.90 for legal fees — is sufficient to allow her to continue her research.

"Funding a lawsuit like this is actually unbelievably expensive, so I'm not yet sure what the damages award is actually going to mean to me in terms of money to go back to doing research," said Horne.

"So I don't know what this is going to mean in terms of getting back to doing research."

She said she hasn't had a chance to sit down with her lawyers and figure out "how that will work."

Horne said the health authority could restore her research grant, but she hasn't "heard anything from them since the verdict."

'Workplace bullying'

Dr. Ken West, who testified at the trial and is president of the medical staff association in Horne's zone, said after the ruling last week that the situation boils down to "a classic case of workplace bullying." 

West said jealousy drove Horne's colleagues to eventually have her clinical privileges revoked, essentially shutting down her ability to access her patients and conduct her research. 

The then Capital District Health Authority, which was later merged with others to form the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said at the time that it had concerns about Horne's collegiality and patient safety.

Horne's lawyer, Michael Wright, said the hospital's own board of directors eventually decided those concerns were not sufficient to justify removing her privileges at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

With files from Information Morning