MILLS Memorial Hospital now figures in complicated lawsuit stemming from injuries suffered by man after he was arrested by Terrace RCMP officers.

Terrace, BC hospital involved in civil suit

Complicated case revolves around injuries suffered by man after he was arrested by RCMP

A civil suit continues to heat up as another of the defendants is alleging that medical staff were negligent in treating a man rushed to hospital from police cells.

This time it’s Const. Brian Heideman, formerly of the Terrace RCMP and now posted in the Okanagan, lining up alongside Terrace RCMP against Mills Memorial Hospital, a doctor and nurse in the case.

The first action was Terrace resident Robert Wright suing the RCMP and Const. Brian Heideman for head injuries he says resulted from excessive force and for negligence in the way he was treated by police after his arrest for drunk driving in 2012.

This June, the RCMP issued its own application adding Dr. DeWit, Mills Memorial Hospital and a nurse only referred to as Jane Doe. The RCMP alleged that the medical staff who saw Wright when he was brought to hospital for treatment three times after being arrested in April 2012 were themselves negligent.

In July, DeWit, followed by the hospital, responded saying he did follow proper procedure and protocols and said any injury or damage to Wright was caused by police.

This application by Heideman is asking the justice to allow him to also name the hospital, doctor and nurse as third parties and for costs to be paid by the hospital regardless of outcome of the case.

Heideman is asking for relief from the third parties in the form of “a declaration that any damage suffered by the plaintiff by reason of the matters set out in the amended notice of civil claim was caused by or contributed to by the negligence of the third parties; contribution and indemnity from the third parties for any liability of the claiming party to the plaintiff; the claiming party’s costs of defending this action; and the claiming party’s costs of conducting these third party proceedings.

Replies from the third parties to Heideman’s application had not been filed as of last week.

In replying to the RCMP adding it as a third party back in June, Mills Memorial Hospital’s argument says that the police failed to bring the third party application forward or at least make their intentions known to do so at the time when the police were named in the lawsuit.

The police offered no explanation for that delay, said the hospital in its response.

“It is submitted that here, the Applicant (Terrace RCMP) was well aware of the role of MMH (Mills Memorial Hospital) as a potential third party at the outset of the litigation,” reads the response.

“It has provided no explanation for the delay in this application, which ought to have been made in March 2014, and in any event prior to the setting down of a trial in this matter,” referring to the month and year when police were named in the civil lawsuit.

Now the trial will take longer as expert witnesses will have to be called to provide evidence about “both standard of care and causation evidence,” continued the hospital.

And Wright’s “injuries and sequelae are not yet known, making it difficult to determine what experts will need to be retained, and evidence obtained from,” continued the response.

DeWit had replied to the RCMP application earlier and made similar points to the hospital’s reply.

A court date this week is set for Heideman to take the application to the justice in supreme court in Vancouver.

He is asking to name the hospital as third party and for his legal costs to be paid by the hospital regardless of the outcome of the application.