“The Sacks v. Ross case, heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2017, highlights the need for clarity on the principle of causation in medical malpractice claims and its potential impact on future litigation.

Medical malpractice cases can be complex and challenging, requiring clear legal guidance for all parties involved. An article in Law Times News discusses Sacks v. Ross, a notable medical malpractice case that reached the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).

The focus of the case before the SCC is to seek clarity on legal principles concerning medical malpractice claims. In this case, a medical malpractice claim was brought by Jordan Sacks who alleges harm caused by the negligence of a healthcare professional. The plaintiff suffered an anastomotic leak following bowel surgery which resulted in the contents of his bowel spilling into his abdominal cavity.

 The discovery and treatment of the patient’s leak was delayed and he went into septic shock and fell into a coma. Sacks needed an amputation of both his legs from below his legs and all of his fingertips.

The jury in the original trial found that the standard of care was breached in some elements but ultimately did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries. The action was then dismissed. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the decision, stating what is required to prove malpractice when there are several tortfeasors in the case. The appeal court laid out how the but-for test should be applied when determining causation in medical malpractice cases with more than one defendant.

 The harm, in this case, couldn’t be tied to one particular defendant 

 One concern is that the decision in Sacks v. Ross is inconsistent with a case heard by another Court of Appeal, Surujdeo v. Melady. Rossana Surujdeo died nine hours after visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms and the cause of death was determined to be a rare cardiac condition. The case was brought before the Court of Appeal who found error in how the trial judge worded questions for the jury. The court indicated that the trial judge should have worded questions using the but-for causation test, and not have used the phrase “caused or contributed” when causation is being considered.

 This left personal injury and malpractice lawyers confused as to how jury trials should be conducted moving forward, specifically when trying to prove causation. Personal injury lawyer, Charles Gluckstein, spoke about the issue and the need for clarification regarding causation, stating that

 “[Sacks] is a very, very important case and we really hope it gets clarified by the Supreme Court, because you can imagine there are so many cases in medical negligence where there are more than one doctor and nurse involved, and we don’t know which standard of causation is going to be applied at trial.”

 The decision made by the SCC in this case carries substantial implications for medical malpractice law in Canada. Depending on the outcome, it will either maintain consistency in existing legal standards or introduce new interpretations that could affect healthcare providers’ liability and the overall landscape of medical malpractice litigation.


MedMalDoctors has a nation network of medical experts that provides lawyers with opinions on Causation and Standard of Care regarding potential medical malpractice.

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From Law Times News