01/16/2013 11:21 EST | Updated 03/18/2013 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick class-action lawsuit appeal over pathology errors delayed

FREDERICTON - An appeal of a decision to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against a former pathologist and a New Brunswick hospital corporation has been adjourned until June.

The case was to be heard Wednesday, but three judges of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal said lawyers didn't provide all of the documents necessary to proceed.

"This case needs to be presented to this court properly and in a thorough fashion," said Chief Justice J. Ernest Drapeau.

Last March, Judge Jean-Paul Ouellette of the Court of Queen's Bench dismissed the class-action suit sought by three patients of Dr. Rajgopal Menon, concluding that the plaintiffs failed to establish an identifiable class.

Menon worked as a pathologist at the Miramichi Regional Hospital between 1995 and 2007 until an audit of his work found 18 per cent of 227 breast and prostate cancer reports were incomplete. The review also concluded that three per cent of those tests were incorrect.

A later review of 23,000 tests done by Menon found a complete or partial change in the results in about a quarter of the cases.

Ouellette suggested that each claimant could file separate lawsuits, but Albert John Gay, Kimberley Ann Doyle and James Bliss Wilson appealed, arguing they should have the ability to present the case as a group.

One of their lawyers, Raymond Wagner, said the Court of Appeal is being thorough because it is the first time they'll deliver a decision on a class-action in the province.

"It is the first time they are going to give their stamp of what the Class Proceeding Act should look like in this province, so that's extremely important," he said outside the court.

The appeal of Ouellette's ruling is now set to be heard for three days beginning June 11.