The Yukon Court of Appeal has dismissed an attempt by a Whitehorse woman to have her designation as a vexatious litigant overturned.
Juanita Wood, a former Department of Highways and Public Works (HPW) employee who was fired while on probation in 2015, was declared a vexatious litigant by Yukon Supreme Court Deputy Justice Gisele Miller earlier this year.
The declaration was the result of an application brought forward by the Yukon government during proceedings related to a petition Wood filed seeking judicial review of the Yukon Human Rights Commission’s decision to terminate an investigation into her complaint over her firing.
The vexatious litigant designation means Wood, who has undertaken a number of unsuccessful complaints, appeals and legal proceedings over her termination, cannot pursue action in court without receiving permission from the court first.
Since her dismissal, Wood has appealed to the deputy minister of the HPW; filed a complaint with the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board; filed a complaint with the Yukon Human Rights Commission; filed a lawsuit against HPW; filed a petition to the Yukon Supreme Court seeking judicial review of her termination; filed another petition seeking judicial review of the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board’s decision to not prosecute HPW; appealed twice to the Yukon Court of Appeal; and filed a petition seeking to set aside the Yukon Human Rights Commission’s decision to end its investigation into her complaint.
Miller found that at least two of the proceedings — the lawsuit against HPW and Wood’s appeal after the lawsuit was dismissed — were vexatious, and that Wood had acted in a vexatious manner when choosing not to continue with her petition seeking judicial review of her firing after “engaging significant judicial resources.”
In her appeal over the vexatious litigant declaration, Wood argued that she had only launched one vexatious proceeding — the lawsuit against HPW.
In a decision released Dec. 19, Yukon Court of Appeal Justice Barbara Fisher, supported by Justices John Savage and Shannon Smallwood, wrote that she found Miller had, in fact, “properly exercised her discretion in declaring Ms. Wood to have persistently instituted vexatious proceedings.”
“I cannot accept Ms. Wood’s submission that her claims are ‘the legitimate assertion of legislated rights under three separate pieces of legislation,’” Fisher wrote.
“While she may have used different vehicles, her destination was always the same: to determine the validity of the termination of her employment with the Department of Highways and Public Works. There was ample evidence to support the judge’s conclusion that the history of Ms. Wood’s persistent litigation was to this aim, and that this met many of the factors to be taken into account in an application under (section 7.1 of the Supreme Court Act).
“In this case, those factors include (1) bringing numerous proceedings to determine an issue that was already determined; (2) bringing proceedings that were bound to fail; (3) repeating the same issues in different forms in subsequent proceedings and seeking superficially different remedies; and (4) persistently taking unsuccessful appeals and reviews before the various tribunals and courts.”
The court dismissed Wood’s appeal and awarded legal costs to the Yukon government.
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