Inquest begins into death of nurse by doctor

Doug Schmidt, CanWest News Service

Published: Monday, September 24, 2007

The coroner's inquest that begins today into the violent deaths two years ago of Lori Dupont and Dr. Marc Daniel will force the murdered nurse's family "to relive this nightmare," but their lawyer says they do so in hopes of preventing a similar tragedy in the future.

"They approach this with a certain amount of trepidation. I expect it to be a painstakingly detailed process ... they will have to relive an unbearable series of events," said Greg Monforton.

Dupont's parents are among approximately 50 witnesses already called to testify before coroner Dr. Andrew McCallum and a jury at an inquest expected to last at least two months.

Dupont, 36, was working in the recovery room of Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital on Nov. 12, 2005, when she was attacked and stabbed to death by Daniel, 50, her former boyfriend. The hospital anesthesiologist died three days later of a drug overdose self-administered shortly after the killing.

The deaths, which shocked the local community, triggered a criminal negligence investigation by police and a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by Dupont's family. Critics, including the Ontario Nurses' Association which launched a labour grievance against Hotel-Dieu, blame the hospital for ignoring incidents of harassment targeting Dupont and other nursing staff by Daniel in the months leading up to Nov. 12.

Monforton and others are looking forward to being able to question key figures who refused to participate in the police probe - which was terminated without any charges laid - as well as with the hospital's own internal investigation that concluded there was nothing it could have done to prevent Dupont's murder.

"It certainly appears that certain people at the hospital knew of the situation but didn't know how to approach it or handle it," said Monforton.

While held in a court-like setting, a coroner's inquest is not a trial with the purpose of assigning blame. None of the testimony can be used in any subsequent criminal or civil proceedings.

At least a dozen nurses are expected to testify, including those who worked closely with both Daniel in the operating room and Dupont in the recovery room, as well as those who attended to Daniel in Hotel-Dieu's psychiatric unit following a suicide attempt earlier in 2005.

Nurses taking the stand will document "Daniel's harassment in the weeks and months leading up to Lori's murder," said Colin Johnston, a labour relations officer with the nurses' union. Another nurse who has been called to testify was the only person in the recovery room to witness Dupont's slaying.

Ontario's Labour Ministry is interested in how Hotel-Dieu dealt with workplace safety orders in the period leading up to November 2005, and the local Crown's office will look at how the justice system dealt with Dupont's restraining order application against Daniel - made six months before her murder but still awaiting a court hearing date.

While knowing they "can't turn back the hands of time," Monforton said Dupont's parents are approaching the inquest "in a spirit of hope" that the jury will make recommendations aimed at preventing another similar workplace tragedy.

Windsor Star


Nine parties have formal standing at the inquest:

- Dupont family

- Susan Daniel and estate of Marc Daniel

- Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital and senior staff

- Drs. Brian Burke and Bill Taylor

- Ontario Nurses' Association

- Ontario Hospital Association

- Ontario Ministry of Labour

- Windsor Crown attorney's office

- Tammy Fryer-Dougan