July 12, 2001  
By Maureen Murray - Staff Reporter

Dr. Nancy Olivieri was proclaiming victory yesterday in the latest round of her long-standing conflict with the Hospital for Sick Children.

Olivieri was elated an Ontario Superior Court judge has dismissed Sick Kids' application to exclude itself from a University of Toronto grievance process filed on behalf of her, four colleagues and the university's faculty association.

"We are actually delighted with this outcome . . . Truths of this long saga are going to eventually emerge," Olivieri said.

Sick Kids had refused to take part in the university grievance process and in particular objected to a summons demanding the hospital turn over hundreds of documents related to a dispute involving Olivieri and the drug firm Apotex Inc.

The controversy dates back to 1996, when a study Olivieri was conducting on the drug deferiprone was cancelled by Apotex after she threatened to tell patients her concerns about its safety and effectiveness.

The grievances, filed in late 1998, allege that the academic freedom of Olivieri and four other medical professors was compromised by the university's failure to support Olivieri when Apotex tried to prevent her from publishing her findings.

Olivieri alleges she faced ongoing intimidation and harassment by Apotex and the hospital, in which the U of T participated.

In February, the hospital filed a court motion arguing that the U of T grievance review panel had no jurisdiction over Sick Kids.

The hospital also took the position that the demand for the documents amounted to unreasonable seizure, in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Sick Kids also argued that the panel overseeing the grievance was likely to be biased because it was composed of university faculty.

But Mr. Justice Ian Nordheimer recognized the university grievance review panel as legitimate arbitration body, with the ability to issue summons and call on witnesses.

Nordheimer, in his judgment released this week, wrote that because of the close relationship between U of T and Sick Kids, "I consider it reasonable to conclude the hospital would have realized that they might become involved in just such a hearing."

Nordheimer also found that it was unreasonable to view the panel as biased simply because it's made up of faculty.

At the same time, Nordheimer dismissed a motion brought by the faculty association and doctors that asked the court to censure Sick Kids for not co-operating with the grievance review panel.

Cyndy DeGiusti, spokesperson for Sick Kids, said the hospital is still considering whether to appeal the judge's decision.

She said the hospital's position remains that it is an "interested bystander, not a party to the grievance."

Copyright (c) 2001 The Toronto Star