On October 11, 2017, French Council of State rejected Dr. Nicolas Bonnemaison’s appeal against the decision of the Order of Physicians to maintain the revocation of his license to practice medicine. In April 2014 he was removed from the Order after being accused of being involved in the death of 7 patients in the Bayonne hospital between 2010 and 2011.
This is the final ruling for the professional proceedings initiated by the Order of Physicians. Previously, criminal procedures were carried out in the judicial court system, with two trials held in assizes (the first in Pau, in June 2014, whereby Dr. Bonnemaison was acquitted, and the second in Angers in October 2015, where he received a 2-year suspended sentence).
The professional procedure began in January 2013, when he was removed from the Order of Physicians on a regional level. Bonnemaison then appealed but the Disciplinary Chamber of the Order confirmed the April 2014 decision forbidding him to practice medicine, which became effective on July 1, 2014. Then an appeal was filed with the Council of State, which is the highest ruling authority for cassation cases when the ruling concerns a professional order. In December 2014, the appeal was dismissed by the Council of State judges.
At the end of 2015, following his acquittal for 6 of the 7 suspected deaths at second criminal trial in Angers, Dr. Bonnemaison requested to be reinstated to practice medicine throughout France. In June 2016, this request was rejected, with the Order stating that “Acting on his own initiative, Dr. Bonnemaison deliberately caused the death of at least 2 of his patients.” For the Order of Physicians, revoking his license “does not appear to be excessively severe, regardless of whatever humanity grounds he invoked to justify these acts”.
A new appeal was filed to contest the latter decision; however the Council of State has again upheld the prior ruling.
Following the public rapporteur’s recommendations issued on September 13, the Council of State’s judges initially ruled that the Disciplinary Chamber of the Order had “not committed any legal error” since it is not bound by the Anger’s Assize Court ruling of partial acquittal.
Afterwards, the penalty was verified to be proportional with the accusations. They ruled that since the Health Code law “forbids deliberately causing death” the gravity of Bonnemaison’s acts justified his dismissal.
Nevertheless, the eventuality of a new professional procedure is not yet completely ruled out. As pointed out by the Disciplinary Chamber in its June 2016 decision, at the end of the initial 3-year time limit set by the law, Bonnemaison may request for the sanction to be lifted, meaning July 1, 2017.
For a few months in 2017, Dr. Bonnemaison was re-employed by the Bayonne Hospital, on a fixed-term contract and without patient contact, to perform clinical research on medical protocols, such as oncology.