Liability Findings in Tort Action Binding in Subsequent HCCRA Prosecution

Reasons for judgment were published this week by the BC Supreme Court concluding that a trial court’s findings of liability are binding in subsequent Health Care Costs recovery prosecutions undertaken by the Province.
In the recent case (British Columbia v. Tekavec) the Defendant owned an apartment building.  A guest fell from the balcony and sued for damages.  The Defendant was found liable and ordered to pay damages.  Prior to trial the Province initiated collateral proceedings under the HCCRA.  They did not participate in the tort trial.  After trial they continue the HCCRA prosecution against the Defendant. The Defendant brought an application to strike the Claim.  Mr. Justice Bracken held that the action can continue and further that Defendant cannot re litigate the issue of liability as it was fully canvassed in the tort trial.  In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons:
[42]         While the Province could have joined in the original action to fully advance its claim, it chose not to.  Perhaps that decision resulted from the conclusion in Gosselin that the Act did not apply to the injuries Mr. Jack suffered before the Act came into force so the Province concluded it could not take an active role in the original action and had to proceed with an independent action.
[43]         Whatever the reason, it seems clear that the court in the original action thoroughly canvassed the issues the defendant has raised in its Response to Civil Claim filed in this action.  I accept that the Province was sufficiently privy to the original action to engage the doctrine of issue estoppel.  The Province had a right to participate with the plaintiff and had a participatory interest in the outcome.  If the court had determined that the defendant was not negligent that outcome would have bound the Province for the purposes of this proceeding.
[44]         The defendant referred to MacIver v. The Queen, 2005 TCC 250, as support for its submission; however, that case is distinguishable on its facts and was not a case where conclusions were reached after a full trial on the very issues the defendant wishes to raise again in this action.  It is not appropriate to allow the same issues to be canvassed again in this action.
[45]         The issues of liability and contributory negligence were fully dealt with and the defendant has exhausted any rights of appeal.  I am satisfied that the defendant is prevented from raising any defence related to his liability or the plaintiff’s contributory negligence in this action.

bc injury law, British Columbia v. Tekavec, Estoppel, HCCRA, Health Care Costs Recovery Act, Issue Estoppel, Mr. Justice Bracken

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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