Thursday, February 28, 2008

Disgraced MD Sues

Below in this article it stats how Smith believes he was wrongfully dismissed from his position out west. I am not sure how things work out west but I know here in Ontario if you lie on your application it is grounds for dismissal. PERIOD. No ands, ifs or butts about it.

This is just another thing that I believe he thinks was wrong against him. I wonder when everything will kick in and he realizes "Oh my god, what did I do to these people?"

Disgraced forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Smith -- whose faulty testimony landed many innocent people in jail in Ontario -- is suing the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority for wrongful dismissal.

The suit comes after a 2006 tribunal ruled the health authority was "unfair, unreasonable and wrong" when it denied Smith hospital privileges in Saskatoon, cutting short a one-year contract to work as a surgical pathologist at Saskatoon City Hospital.

"There was no just cause for the dismissal of the plaintiff, nor has reasonable notice been provided, nor has the plaintiff been paid in lieu of reasonable notice," says Smith's statement of claim filed in Saskatchewan's Court of Queen's Bench.

Saskatoon lawyer Gary Bainbridge filed the suit while Ontario was holding a public inquiry that had Smith's questionable work at its focus.

Last month at the inquiry, Smith apologized repeatedly for his conduct, saying he had "woefully inadequate" training in child forensic pathology when he began doing autopsies on children who had died suspiciously.

He admitted that he had sloppy work habits and procrastinated, that he contributed to a miscarriage of justice, that he fabricated a tale about a judge who disagreed with his conclusions and that when he testified as an expert witness, he thought he was supposed to be on the Crown's side, not an independent scientist.

A review of Smith's work, which prompted the inquiry, found Smith made significant errors in 20 of 45 suspicious child deaths he helped investigate between 1991 and 2001. In 12 of those cases, people were criminally convicted.

One man was wrongfully convicted and served 12 years in jail for the rape and killing of his niece. William Mullins-Johnson was acquitted of the crime in October, and Smith offered him an emotional apology at the inquiry.

When scrutiny of Smith's work intensified in 2005, he left Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and began a one-year contract in Saskatoon as a surgical pathologist in September of that year. He was restricted to analyzing samples collected from live patients, such as cancer biopsies. However, when it came time for the Saskatoon Health Region's board to approve his hospital privileges -- a process that's usually a rubber stamp -- the board said no.

With no hospital privileges, the health region terminated his contract in December 2005.

Smith appealed the board's decision to a rarely used provincial tribunal, and in November 2006, the tribunal ruled the regional health authority made a mistake by denying Smith privileges.

The tribunal said it would have ordered the health region to reinstate Smith, except his licence to practise medicine in the province had expired by then.

Bryan Salte, associate registrar with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, said Smith re-applied for his Saskatchewan licence, which was granted from February to December 2007. The licence was issued on the condition he not practise forensic pathology, Salte said.

Salte said it "would be extremely unlikely" Smith practised medicine during that time, since he would have to be employed by a health region to work in his specialty. Several Saskatchewan health regions contacted by The StarPhoenix said Smith is not, and has not, been working there.

Smith is paying $300 a year for an "inactive" licence in Saskatchewan, meaning he can apply to have his licence re-instated with less paperwork than starting from scratch, Salte said.

James Winkel, a spokesperson with the Saskatoon Health Region, says Smith has since applied for two job postings for anatomic pathologists in Saskatoon. He did not get either job, and the positions were filled by other candidates, Winkel said.

"He's a pediatric pathologist so the qualifications didn't fit the positions," Winkel said.

Evert van Olst, legal counsel for the health region, said he could not comment on Smith's suit because the region has not yet been formally served with a statement of claim.

"This is the first I've heard about it," van Olst said. "I'm assuming that he issued it out of some kind of abundance of caution, and maybe doesn't have an intention of serving it."

The tribunal never gave the health region a solution to deal with Smith's "unfair" treatment, van Olst said.

Smith could not be reached for comment, nor could his lawyer, Bainbridge.

In his suit, Smith is asking the health region for damages, including loss of salary, employment benefits, stipends, professional stature and emotional stress. He's also claiming damages "exceeding $50,000."

People prosecuted and sent to jail because of Smith's forensic conclusions have said their lives were devastated by his sloppy work. Peterborough, Ont., mother Brenda Waudby was charged with second-degree murder when her 21-month-old daughter was beaten to death. Smith did not turn over to police a pubic hair health-care workers found on the child's body. International experts who reviewed the case found Smith had estimated the tot's time of death incorrectly and concluded the toddler likely died when a male babysitter was caring for her. Charges against Waudby were dropped and the babysitter was convicted of manslaughter.

In 1997, Louise Reynolds was charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of her seven-year-old daughter. She spent nearly two years in jail awaiting trial before the Crown prosecutor withdrew the charge. A forensic expert from the U.S. found the child had actually been mauled to death by a dog.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008