Bioethics Blogs

Rasouli v. Cuthbertson – Part II

On Friday, the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed Hassan Rasouli family’s appeal in a lawsuit separate from, though closely related to, the October 2013 Supreme Court of Canada decision in Rasouli v. Cutbertson.

In October, 2010, Mr. Rasouli suffered debilitating complications following surgery at Sunnybrook Hospital. He was kept alive by mechanical ventilation. Physicians Brian Cuthbertson, Gordon Rubenfeld and Richard Swartz recommended the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation from Mr. Rasouli.  His family opposed that decision.

As a result of that disagreement, two applications were commenced in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice – one by the Rasouli family and one by the physicians – over the issue of whether the physicians required the consent of Ms. Salasel, her husband’s substitute decision-maker, or the approval of the Consent and Capacity Board (CCB), to withdraw the life-sustaining measures from Mr. Rasouli. Those cases proceeded to the Supreme Court of Canada which, in its October, 2013 decision, held that the physicians were required to seek Ms. Salasel’s consent to the withdrawal of the life-sustaining measures, failing which there had to be a ruling by the CCB

In January 2013, the family commenced a separate action. In it, they sought $1 million in special damages and $1 million in general, aggravated and punitive damages for intimidation, assault, negligence, abuse of process, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. The Statement of Claim specifies that the special damages sought consist of the approximately $500,000 in legal fees spent “to keep Hassan alive”. Mr. Rasoui’s wife and two children also sought $250,000 each for the intentional infliction of mental suffering.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.