The Record
Suit claims patient held
against his will 57 days
patient suing
hospital for
$1.8 million
By Maurice Crossfield
    Former psychiatric patient Serge Bourassa-Lacombe is suing the Centre Universitaire de Sante de l'Estrie and six physicians there in connection with his treatment when lie was committed in 1995.
    The $1,888,000 lawsuit, filed by the firm Caza, Caouette et associated claims that Bourassa- Lacombe's rights were violated at the hands of mental health care professionals during a 57 day forced stay at the CHUS. In the suit Bourassa-Lacombe says the compensation is for his resulting physical health problems, mental anguish, inconvenience and human rights violations, as well as exemplary damages.
    Named in the suit are psychiatrists Lynn Gaudreault, Jean-Philippe Boulanger and Claude Arbour. Doctors Paul Montambault, Andre Simard and Marc Lefebvre are also implicated in the lawsuit.
    According to a copy of the suit filed in court in Sherbrooke Monday, the events date back to February 11, 1995. That evening Bourassa- Lacombe, then 37, got into an argument with a roommate.
Fearing Bourassa-Lacombe was going to assault him, the roommate contacted the police. Bourassa- Lacombe then decided to go to the Sherbrooke Police headquarters on his own to explain.
    The police then arrested him*, and brought him to the Centre Hospitalier de l'Universite de Sherbrooke in Fleurimont. He would remain there until April 12, 1995, only being allowed out on day passes on three occasions.
    During the first two days, the suit says Bourassa-Lacombe was forced to take sleeping pills and other tranquilizers.
    «They made him submit to care and treatment without his authorization and without the consent of the courts,» the suit says. «As well, during this illegal 48-hour detention at the emergency ward of the CHUS no request for a psychiatric examination was made before the courts.»
    The suit goes on to say that Bourassa-Lacombe was, over the course of his stay at the CHUS, given a variety of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs, all without his consent. « a negligent fashion.» Those drugs included Lithium, Haldol, Rivotril, Dalmane and Ativan.
    As a result of this Bourassa-Lacombe said lie suffered a variety of side effects, including vision loss,
 confusion and impotence.
    Since his release from the CHUS in April 1995, Bourassa-Lacombe says lie has never taken any medication for his mental state. He has remained unemployed and unable to work, and has dedicated much of his time as an advocate for the rights of mental health patients.
    Following his release he then tried to get further help at hospitals in the Montreal region, but with no luck. After several attempts to get a look at his medical file from the CUSE, lie lodged a formal complaint with the health care institution in March 1997.
    Finally last November the Commission des Affaires Sociales ordered the CUSE to hand Bourassa-Lacombe a copy of his psychiatric file. The law suit claims the file is filled with several omissions and errors concerning his treatment during his stay at the CHUS.
    As well as the $1,888,000 in damages the suit calls for the destruction of his file.
    «The present action is well founded in facts and in law,» the suit concludes.

*You should read the article by replacing him by her