A new trial has been ordered and a $5-million judgment thrown out because B.C. Supreme Court Justice Joel Groves plagiarized most of his ruling.
In a staggering decision Thursday [April 14], involving an expensive 30-day trial about a baby boy severely injured during delivery, the B.C. Court of Appeal said the judge had substantially reproduced all of the submissions of a participating party in the lawsuit as his reasons for judgment. It is only the fourth reported case of its kind in Canadian history, the judges said in their ruling.
The appeal panel split 2-1 on whether the copying alone was enough to trigger a re-trial of the medical-negligence suit, with Justice Kenneth Smith holding that other errors by the judge required the ruling to be overturned.
"Rather than exhibiting any sign that the trial judge grappled with the difficult issues confronting him, one is left with page after page (84) of wholesale, uncritical reproduction of the respondents' written submissions," the two appellate justices wrote.
They concluded: "A reasonable and informed observer could not be persuaded that the trial judge examined all of the evidence before him and made appropriate findings."