The Yukon Supreme Court has declared former Yukon government employee Juanita Wood, who has launched several legal actions related to her 2015 firing, a vexatious litigant. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Supreme Court declares former YG employee a vexatious litigant

Former HPW heavy equipment operator ordered to pay $670 in costs

The Yukon Supreme Court has declared a former Yukon government employee who has launched several legal actions related to her 2015 firing a vexatious litigant.

In a 12-page decision issued July 20, Yukon Supreme Court Deputy Justice Gisele Miller wrote that Juanita Wood has “persistently instituted vexatious proceedings and conducted proceedings in a vexatious manner.”

The ruling was the result of an application the Yukon government filed to the court as Wood pursues her third petition related to her 2015 dismissal from her position as a heavy equipment operator with the Department of Highways and Public Works.

Currently, Wood is seeking a judicial review of the Yukon Human Rights Commission’s decision to not investigate her human rights complaint related to her firing. She’s also previously filed an unsuccessful complaint to the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, two other petitions for judicial review, a lawsuit against the Department of Highways and Public Works and an unsuccessful appeal after the lawsuit was deemed vexatious. She is also taking one of her unsuccessful petitions to the Yukon Court of Appeal.

The Yukon government’s application, filed May 17, asked for an order declaring Wood a vexatious litigant and prohibiting her from launching further court proceedings unless she receives approval from the Yukon Supreme Court. The application also requested that the court dismiss Wood’s current petition, but in his submissions July 19, Yukon government lawyer I.H. Fraser said that the government would be content with an order stating Wood would not be able to proceed further with her application with leave of the court.

In her submissions, Wood argued that she was not a vexatious litigant, pointing to the fact that only one of her legal actions — the lawsuit — had been declared vexatious. She also gave other reasons for why she stopped pursuing certain complaints, appeals or legal actions, which included not getting proper instructions, advice or clarifications on how certain complaints or legal processes work.

In her decision, however, Miller wrote that it was clear the Yukon Court of Appeal had also found Wood vexatious when, in quashing Wood’s appeal over her lawsuit, Justice David Harris wrote that the situation was “one of the rare cases in which the appeal should be quashed on the basis that it is devoid of merit and bound to fail.”

Miller found that Wood also acted vexatiously when she filed a petition seeking a judicial review of her termination in April 2017, filed an amended petition in November 2017 but then consented to having the petition dismissed in May 2018, days before the matter was set to go to trial.

In May 2018, another Yukon Supreme Court judge dismissed one of Wood’s petitions, striking her claim because it was vexatious. As the case is currently under appeal, Miller wrote that she did not include it in her count of Wood’s vexatious actions, but noted that she agreed with the judge’s findings.

“I direct myself, in determining whether Ms. Wood’s conduct is vexatious, to look at the whole history before me,” Miller wrote. “I am satisfied that Ms Wood has brought all of the proceedings noted above to determine the same issue: the validity of her dismissal from the Department of Highways and Public Works. I find that that issue has already been determined by courts of competent jurisdiction.”

Miller granted the Yukon government’s application, and also ordered Wood to pay the Yukon government $670 in costs.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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