Okanagan doctor attacked by patient ordered to pay Interior Health's legal fees after failed civil lawsuit

Doc to cough up legal fees

Instead of getting six-figure settlement, an Okanagan psychiatrist who was attacked by his patient has now been ordered to pay the legal fees of Interior Health.

Dr. Rajeev Sheoran filed a civil suit against the health authority seeking damages stemming from a violent December 2014 incident, during which he was assaulted by his patient, Summerland resident Gregory Nield.

Sheoran was performing a closed-door interview at Penticton Regional Hospital when Nield attacked without provocation. Sheoran was knocked unconscious, suffered a broken jaw, nose, teeth and damage to his eye, and a traumatic brain injury, and was left bleeding profusely.

Sheoran alleged Interior Health Authority was negligent by failing to providing a safe work environment, leading to the attack.

Prior to trial in September 2021, Sheoran was offered a settlement of $625,000, plus costs and disbursements, and additional terms.

Sheoran chose to proceed to trial. Damages he could have been entitled to for loss of past and future work opportunities and cost of future care could possibly have totalled in the multiple millions.

He lost.

A judgment from Justice Steven Wilson in March 2022 found there was not sufficient evidence that IHA was negligent. He wrote that Nield was well known to be a potentially dangerous client among all of the staff on the unit, and that Sheoran failed to prove that he had asked for and been denied a nurse in the room with Nield.

Now, in a follow-up judgment, Sheoran has been ordered to pay for IHA's legal fees throughout the lengthy 36-day trial.

IHA had petitioned the court for double its legal fees due to Sheoran having rejected their initial settlement offer, but Justice Wilson did not go that far.

"[Sheoran's] decision to proceed to trial rather than to accept the offer that represented a small fraction of his losses was not unreasonable. The plaintiff should not have to pay double costs solely because his claim was ultimately unsuccessful on the issue of liability," Wilson wrote.

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