Manitoba's highest court rules family of man who died during ER wait can sue

First Nations in Canada, Indigenous rights, Healthcare, Supreme Court of Canada
Sinclair memorialized photo courtesy: Winnipeg Free Press

WINNIPEG — Manitoba's highest court has ruled the family of a man who died during a 34-hour emergency room wait can sue the health authority for a breach of charter rights.

Lower courts struck out the heart of the lawsuit filed by the family of Brian Sinclair, ruling his loved ones couldn't sue because his charter and privacy rights died with him.

Lawyers for Sinclair's family argued his rights were violated when he slowly died in a Winnipeg hospital waiting room in 2008.

They argued it was absurd that the family of a man who died because he didn't receive the care due him under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms couldn't sue because he died.

The Court of Appeal agreed the lawsuit should be allowed to proceed.

It has also restored the family's right to sue hospital officials for disclosing private health information concerning Sinclair.

The 45-year-old double amputee died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter while waiting for care at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre in September 2008.

Although Sinclair spoke to a triage aide when he first arrived at the emergency room, he was never formally entered into the hospital's system. He languished in the waiting room for hours, growing sicker and vomiting several times, but was never asked if he was waiting for care.

Rigor mortis had set in by the time Sinclair was discovered dead. An inquest into his death heard many employees assumed he was drunk, seeking shelter, or had been seen and was waiting for a ride.

The Canadian Press

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