Bond case against pharmacy moves forward

By Lois Ann Dort    

CANSO – In May of 2016 Bernice Bond of Canso was given a prescription for methotrexate which was dispensed by the Canso Pharmacy. The instructions and packaging of the prescription were incorrect, resulting in an overdose that the medical examiner found to be the direct cause of Bond's death in June, 2016. In the months following her death, Bond's son Carlton Bond launched a legal action to pursue a civil case of negligence under the Fatal Injuries Act.

Last fall the defendants in the case; Canso Pharmacy LTD., Pharmacist Alexandra Willson and her unnamed assistant John/Jane Doe, filed an appeal arguing that the previous judge misinterpreted the Pharmacy Act and the Fatal Injuries Act. The Pharmacy Act, if deemed applicable to this case, would see the matter dismissed due to the expiration of time limitations under that act, the defendants argued.

In a judgement released April 2, on the appeal heard on March 26, 2019, the court dismissed the appeal. Included in the reasons for the judgement was the statement, “There is no conflict between the limitation periods described in the Fatal Injuries Act and the Pharmacy Act because they relate to different limitation periods arising from the altered circumstance of the potential plaintiff’s death.”

Ray Wagner, representing Carlton Bond as the Executor of the Estate of Bernice Bond, spoke to The Journal about the future of the case now that the appeal has been dismissed.

“The Court of Appeal has agreed with Justice Arnold in their determination that the Fatal Injuries Act limitation period applies here,” said Wagner, “So that issue now is resolved, and having resolved that issue we will now move on to have the matter either settled or tried.”

The next steps are for both the plaintiff and the defendants in the matter to exchange documentation with respect to the alleged wrong doing and from there proceed with a discovery examination.

Wagner told The Journal, “In that discovery of the individuals that are named in the action as defendants and potentially discovery of those people that are entitled under the Fatal Injuries Act, that would be children, spouses, grandchildren, once those discoveries are concluded we can file a request for trial which we will do immediately. Our intention is to move to document disclosure, discovery examination and then have dates set at that time. We are hopeful we will be able to conclude all those matters within this year.”

Although the process seems overly long, Wagner said such cases, if going to trial, can take from three to five years to come to a conclusion. “That is a very long time, obviously, for a family who has lost a loved one as a result of the alleged negligence of another,” he said.

Last month's judgement, said Wagner, has ramifications beyond the scope of this particular case. “It is important that the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has been very, very clear in asserting that in fatality cases, it is one year from the time of death...We have resolved an issue not only for this case but for all other cases that involve fatalities that surround dispensing of medication.”