On June 16, 2000 in the Superior Court of Justice in Hamilton, Ontario, Judge J. Philp issued his ruling in the first tardive dyskinesia case to go to trial in Canada. In Wells v. Paramsothy, Judge Philp found that a general practitioner, John Cocker, was negligent in his prescription of Haldol to Mary Wells and that his negligence contributed to the development of her tardive dyskinesia. The judge found that her psychiatrist was also negligent but that his negligence did not contribute to her damages.
When Ms. Wells developed tardive dyskinesia during her residence in a nursing home, she was already suffering from a prior severe head injury with significant loss of frontal lobe function. Because of her previous impairment and in keeping with Canadian legal practice, the amount of the damages will be small by U.S. standards. However, the case and the judge’s decision are milestones in Canadian law and medical practice.
The attorneys for Ms. Wells were Robert B. Monroe (905 526 9800) and Liza Sheard (905 523 5666) of Hamilton.
Peter R. Breggin, M.D. was the expert witness on behalf of Ms. Wells. Dr. Breggin was qualified as an expert by the judge on “(1) psychiatry including the use and adverse effects of psychiatric medication; (2) the reasonable standard of care of physicians prescribing psychiatric drugs including neuroleptics: (3) the reasonable precautions physicians should take in the prescription of and treatment with neuroleptic medication including Haldol; and (4) assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with Tardive Dyskinesia and the disabilities associated with Tardive Dyskinesia.” Although Dr. Breggin practices in the United States, the judge ruled that he possessed the expertise to testify on standards of care in Canada.