AMHERST – A River Hebert pharmacist plans to launch an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada against sanctions placed against her by the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists.
Amherst lawyer Jim O’Neil said he has been asked by Tammy Fadelle to launch the action after the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal of the college’s finding of professional misconduct.
“The first step is to launch an application for a leave of appeal. There are so many pressing cases across Canada that the Supreme Court has limited resources and whether it decides to grant leave of appeal would relate to whether it feels the case raises issues of national significance rather than injustice alone,” O’Neil said in a news release.
Last May, the college suspended Fadelle’s licence for two years and fined her $10,000, saying she created a fictitious patient profile and was issuing pills to this non-existent patient. She was found guilty to prescribing drugs without proper prescriptions.
The court of appeal heard Fadelle’s case on Jan. 31 and handed down an 18-page decision last week.
O’Neil explained that the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal declared that most of the points of appeal were related to alleged erroneous findings of fact by the association’s disciplinary committee and that the court felt it didn’t have the jurisdiction to intervene. In other words, O’Neil said, even if the court discovered the finding of facts to be wrong, it would still adopt a deferential approach to the committee.
Because of this ruling, O’Neil said his application for fresh evidence was rejected because it related to matters of fact. At the hearing of the committee, O’Neil said, it had been established there was evidence that should have cleared his client but the association did not consider it for this reason.
O’Neil said his client was crushed by the decision and feels it to be a miscarriage of justice. He said she has hired a manager to continue operating the community’s only pharmacy.
The main point of the appeal, O’Neil said, was that if the evidence of the former employee was preferred over Fadelle’s, then it was impossible she would’ve been believed on any of the other allegations and therefore could not have had a fair hearing. The lawyer said the Court of Appeal found these were matters of fact and it would not intervene.
O’Neil said the case does raise matters of national significance and needs to be considered by the Supreme Court.
“The provincial statutes give a right of appeal from disciplinary panels, but the issue is whether or not a Court of Appeal will apply the differential rule to the extent that the right of appeal becomes essentially meaningless,” he said. “In other words, if a committee makes a clear error of law, you might have a chance on appeal. However, if they reach wrong conclusions about the evidence, it seems you’re going to stick with that.”